I'm a public school lovin' mama! It occurs to me that sometimes we talk about what we'd like to see improved with our kids' school -- because, to be honest, there is always room for an improvement here or there.
But, lets talk about what we love about school! It's the beginning of the school year, lots of good cheer...
Well, this year dd2 (3rd grade) seems like she has a great teacher. She's young, but has taught this same 3rd grade class for 4 yrs, and has a lot of enthusiasm.
Dd2's school is moving toward a project-based learning approach at the same time they're implementing the new Common Core Standards, too.
There's a lot of diversity in Dd2's school. There's a good mix of white, African American, and Hispanic, as well as a significant Burmese/Karen refugee population. Dd2 and Dd1 were in a crunchy private and very white school before public school and I'm glad for them to see folks of different backgrounds.
There's a nice number of girls (and boys) for her to be friends with. The crunchy school was small and there really weren't many girls in her class.
There's a pretty good sense of community at the school. Lots of folks walk to school and they have many school wide celebrations that parents are invited to.
We're excited about this year!
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
I love our local school district (K-8.) They are a smallish district in our county. A rural, middle/lower-middle class area. They pride themselves on flexibility and individualized education. They are heavy in arts education at all grade levels... art, music (band and orchestra,) dance, theatre. They house both Spanish and Mandarin immersion schools with foreign language enrichment offered on several other campuses. Interesting science programs including "Project Lead the Way" (pre-engineering,) Robotics and Horticulture at the middle school level. Junior Olympics from 4th through 8th, sports teams 6th-8th. Thriving preschool program including a free program for kids in need. Tons of community support. Board members who actually go to various school concerts and events. Might I add, fiscally sound despite us not being in one of the wealthy neighborhoods? They actually have a reserve to cover special programs during economic crisis.
I have two kids who are a challenge to educate. They've needed a lot of accommodation over the years and we got it easily including accommodations like grade skipping which many districts won't even consider. We've come across some fantastic teachers. Even the teachers we weren't crazy about personally were at least skilled in their craft.
Currently, my eldest is in a very unique high school/college hybrid... a public school program out of our area high school district. They take a small group of qualifying kids each year and these kids take 2 high school classes together and everything else at the community college for both high school AND college credit. It's a free program (though we are responsible for college textbooks.) It's fantastic so far and just the sort of program DD desperately needed.
We spent 2 years in a different district (and one of the largest districts in the nation) and so I do know how terrible things can be but I also know how positive a public school education can be too.
DS just started at a new school this year and while it's only been a couple of weeks, I am happy so far! He loves having a ton of potential friends in his class and on the playground. He loves his teacher. He comes home from school happy. I couldn't ask for more.
DD started preschool at a different elementary school and she is just as happy. They are both thriving in their new environments, as I knew they would. I know that homeschooling is what's right for some families, but public school has been wonderful for my family so far.
I love that you talked about your entire district, WNM. Our district is in a large city and I know its had its ups and downs but we have a great superintendent and things are always improving. My area has had some sort of school choice/magnet program since the late 1800s! In the last 15 or so years, the issue of school choice has been a huge focus for our district and there are new charters opening up left and right, it seems. We'll be doing the school choice program for middle school this fall/winter and although it's nerve racking as a parent to approach school in this way, I think the benefits outweigh the downsides. I love that we have a choice in where we send our child to public school - something that in the past was reserved only for advanced students or families able to use private.
Our school (K-5) does not have especially small class sizes, something that is so often spoken about in education, on the news and etc. but it is a small school. I've put a lot of thought into what's most important to me and what's best for my DC and I think a small school setting is a better trade-off for DC than small class sizes. I like that she knows everyone in her school and every adult in the building. I like that everyone knows her name.
One of the other things I love about our school is they have a general philosophy of creating life-long learners. The school is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the students and the community. I think that this is an area where some parents are frustrated -- feeling like there is constantly something new but I like it and my DC seems to adapt well to any changes they make. For instance, they overhauled the curriculum two years ago and the elementary age kids now rotate teachers. I LOVE this. For one, it means that teachers can teach their strongest subjects and secondly, it means that kids are seeing the same teachers for 2, sometimes 4 years in a row. So much less time wasted learning new teachers and teachers learning about new kids.
Along the lines of adapting and changing -- DC's school is not perfect and I don't think any school is but they are always improving and reflecting on what works and doesn't. Every year they take the summer and reflect and make changes and EVERY change they make addresses what I would have asked them to work on (if I were the type of parent to complain).
On an individual basis, the school is good for DC and her particular learning issues. She has a reading delay and the school worked closely with us to address the problem. One drawback to a small school is that they sometimes don't have quite as many options for kids who have special needs that are not identified with an IEP but our school made up for that by working with us on an individual level. I really think that the combination of rigorous academic standards and the willingness to let parents be part of the academic choices saved our DC from being wrongly identified in terms of her reading struggles. I know that there is no better school setting for my child in regards to her reading development.
What else, oh, yes -- community & diversity. I'm super social and DC's school is such a wonderful resource for our entire family. We have made so many wonderful friends - both close and casual. DC will be the better for attending a public school and especially a charter school where she is meeting friends from all over the city.
- i love the fact that dd feels comfortable enough to tell her teacher to her face she doesnt like her sometimes (omg i almost died and hoped the sky would swallow me up) and the teacher says looking at my face - oh no that's ok. at least she is honest.
- i love the fact that inspite of a huge load, the teacher managed to fit in a field trip every single month of school. we are lucky that we can take public transportation. i am grateful that she was dedicated enough to find parents and manage her funds so that those who couldnt pay got scholarships.
- dd's going into 5th grade. she has been with almost the same set of kids since 1st grade. i love the camaraderie i see in the kids. it moves me to tears to see how they watch out for each other. i think to me this is the most important. they watch out for and pick up lunch bags and jackets - or yell reminders at those typical forgetful kids. they watch out and remind those who have trouble to keep their hands to themselves when they visit other classrooms to view their projects. they form groups and take care of the children who have high anxiety (so make sure when they get on public transportation that those kids are sitting down) or they share their lunch together for the kid who forgot his or their water.
- i love the fact that dd's 3rd grade teacher cried at the PT meeting because he could not fulfill dd's request of having both parents at the meeting. i love the fact that he loves and cares so much that even though he retired last year he's keeping an eye on dd and wants to see how she does in future.
- i love the fact that i always go to pick up dd late, coz she is visiting another one of her past teachers in their classrooms after school.
- i love the fact that the teachers allow their students to speak their mind. so she allowed a student to do his science report on farts and allowed dd to present her objection to missions in California.
i do have my greivances too you know. the fact that the school cant make more accomodations than they already are for dd's intellectual needs. yet it is the social aspect which makes school enjoyable for dd - otherwise she would be miserable. dd's words in K are still true. she told her K teacher 'i come to school to party and go home to study.' she still gets more out of school socially than academically. and its because of her teachers and social aspect that she looks forward to going back to school.
Great idea for a thread!
I love ds's school because...
- it allows him to learn a different language (all courses are taught in French)
- it is well funded, they have good computers, books, material etc.
- the teachers are amazing, well trained, accommodating and thinking outside the box
- very diverse, the majority of kids speak at least 2 languages
- ds has many friends at school
- low student-to-staff ratio
- they emphasize physical activity and good nutrition
I love that my son's public school district is fully inclusive. Children with all variety of abilities and disabilities receive their education in their neighborhood schools. Because "separate but equal" is as inherently unequal for children with disabilities as it was for children who were segregated by color.
Non-disabled children go to the same schools as their disabled siblings. Heck yeah.
I got tired of my signature, but I still love my children and husband and miss my little brother.
I love that most of the kids at our school walk there and back everyday. It's cool to be part of the community in this way.
DD is in kindergarten and I love that they have either music or PE everyday.
I love that are charter school excels with children from all different income levels. I love that provides a garden program, lunch (truly) from the farmer's market, PE, music, and a Friday all school sing. I love that kids with free/reduced price lunches get this lovely food (the school subsidizes it).
I love hearing about all the strong lunch programs that some of your schools provide. Our district provides lunch from some central processing center and that's what our kids eat or they bring their lunch from home. I know the district is trying to improve the local options (it's very fashionable to talk about on the local radio and etc.) but they really haven't made any improvements. It's nice to hear about schools that have found another .
I also wanted to say that the diversity issue is also huge for us. It seemed like such a long thing to type out but, yes, the diversity of student ability, socio-economic levels, race, sexuality, religion (and lack of) and etc. is really heartening. For us, I think this may be heightened in some ways by being a district wide charter.
But then, also, I love hearing about neighborhood schools. There is so much to be said for going to school with your neighbors, walking to school and the sense of community one must feel. I'm envious of that as well.
I love that we have an active PTO, and that the faculty loves having parents in the schools.
I love that salad is always an option for lunch and that it is really a GREEN salad.
I love that his music teacher sings all the times and even sings songs about getting in line.
I love that they don't say be quiet, but keep a bubble in your mouth (blow out your cheeks with air, so your mouth has to stay closed).
I love that the faculty and admin get that my DS is different and work with us to get him.
I love that it is a public school so they meet and learn to get along with all differnent kids of people.
It is a large enough school to have dedicated teachers for gym, music, etc.
I love the social aspect to school. Things have been going well.
so far (4 years in) they have had really great teachers.
I love that they will have a common experience with the vast majority of people in our society. That might sound weird but, by this I mean that part of school (not only school, there are other ways this happens) makes them part of our culture in the way they socialize and talk to people, they way that they learn and the values they absorb. I was never really aware of this as a child until I grew up and travelled and considered living in another country, but ultimatly I wanted my kids to be "Canadianized"
I love that the school board and community continue to vote in art, music, french and an extra program called Project Eagle which is enrichment.
I love that there are small classes and teachers know our names. My little one has the same teachers that my older kids did years ago, and they have continued to learn and improve, not grow stale.
I do love the neighborhood aspect. This is a small rural community where 'everyone knows everyone.' Even at the high school level.
The high school does impressively well in teaching kids and getting them ready for college and life skills. There are many AP options.
I love that the high school has a huge drama and music program and that the school values this as equal to regular academics.
I love that we have a great superintendent who is cutting edge with regard to education.