The other school interview

May 6, 2009 schools 11

Tuesday morning Kevin and I went to the local public elementary school to talk to the principal. We were on time and it was a busy day. Never fails, you are trying to be discreet and incognito and you run into someone you know!!! This person formerly worked with Kevin and she was hurrying in with food for a Teacher appreciation brunch/luncheon they were hosting. She asked if we were at the wrong school……………we gave no explanation………but it was awkward.

The principal is nice, but not really warm and engaging. I would prefer an elementary principal who seems more invested and interested in making a new family feel welcome. A friend I spoke to today said, well he doesn’t have to sell it, its’ a public school, he has to accept everyone. While that is true, I believe that his lack of warmth had an impact on my overall impression.

We sat at a table in his office, which was neat enough, but a bit cluttered, this isn’t critical, I know, but I’m trying to give you the complete picture. He had paper to make any notes and he could see that I came equipped with a full sheet of questions. One thing that did irritate me was the fact that on his white board was a note that read “Mrs. LeBeau called AGAIN”, it was clearly from last Friday. Come on wouldn’t you have taken that down?

I asked about the # of classes in 6th grade, and he told me that they team teach, in that there are 4 classes and 4 teachers and 2 teach English(reading writing etc) and SS, and one teaches math and one teaches science. So a student will have 3 teachers and they have a schedule they follow, with what they call activities mixed in. Activities are music, art, PE , Media Center, and Science Lab, each once a week. It was odd, he was trying to find a copy of the schedule and it was this copy of a notebook piece of paper, with a handwritten work up of the 4 teachers and what each teaches to whom each period. My husband uses and creates spreadsheets in his work, most of the day long, he’s an accountant and a Credit Union Controller, it was odd for both of us to see this sort of manual thing in this day. …………Ok, so I ask about accelerated classes and basically I learn there are none. Students that are tested into gifted are pulled out once a week and are sent to another school for separate work. Budget cuts are killing our schools.
There is no computer lab, well there is one, but they learn nothing in that area. He said to me, well honestly most kids know how to write a paper. I told him I was disagree with him in that many students know how to go to Word and type, but they know little of how to create a document that looks good and how to use the many tools that MS Office has to offer. The computer lab offers more reading and comprehension opportunities.
I was shocked at how few clubs or after school activities there are. They did not have an upper grade Odyssey of the Mind group.
The public schools participate in spelling bee, geography bee, and some math tournament, but no Speech or writing competitions.
We took a short tour, on my suggestion, he did not act like he wanted to give us the time to show us around. We went into the Media Center, where they were setting up for this teacher brunch and we ran into another friend, I’m sure they are all a twitter that we are considering putting Nick there…LOL! We saw the cafeteria and we went into a quad type area where the 6th grade is. The classes were fine in size, the kids looked bored out of their minds…………as my husband so aptly said…but hey they are kids.

Honestly I have been down in the dumps about this all day. I had such very high hopes. I was very disappointed. I don’t see any benefits in this school, over where Nick is now. They might lose funding for some activities like art and music, then what?? I was hoping there was more of an accelerated track, something more challenging, but it doesn’t sound like what I’d hoped for. The middle school is where more of that is available, but eek, waiting a year before that is not great.

Nick of course was thrilled. He wants to stay in his current school. Once again, this parenting thing is challenging!

11 Responses to “The other school interview”

  1. Crazy Mom of Three

    Ugh! I would agree with your assessment about the school and the note about you calling …. at our public school the principal was as wonderful and concerned as any parish school we ever went to. What you described would bother me too. What is your opinion of the public high school overall? Will you be exploring some other public school options?

  2. My name is PJ.

    Devil’ advocate here: Whenever you approach something foreign with anxiety and trepidation, it is bound to hit your negatively. Your perspective was understandably skewed; you weren’t open to anything positive.
    Mother here: I would’ve hated the whole thing from the time I met the less than warm principal and saw the freakin’ white board in his office.
    Blogger friend here: Go with your gut and with your God, kiddo. A leap of faith is the only way to decide one way or another.
    And, by the way – PEACE: take time to experience it today.

  3. Tammy Howard

    It really is astounding, the ‘activities’ that have been or will be cut from the public schools. (and here’s the part where I make it all about me…) I was a teacher for years and a teacher educator for years after that. I have become so disenchanted with the whole system – particularly (but not limited to) the trend towards teaching to the tests. I quit completely last summer and haven’t missed it for a second.

    I am not thrilled with the school my girls are in, but it’s sort of a “beats the alternative” situation.

    You’ve hit on a soapbox issue for me and I’m gonna step down from it now…

    Oh – one more thing – leaving that message on the whiteboard was a major faux pas.

  4. Pam

    How disappointing that this school was not all you had hoped it would be. But, maybe that will make your decision easier. The principal sounds like a real dud!

  5. Kristen

    I’be been waiting to hear about how it went!
    Oh man. I’m so sorry that is was a disappointment. How frustrating.
    Now I guess looking at the 2 schools, it’s a choice between comfort, friends, activities, and challenge or an unprepared principal in a school that won’t offer the best for Nick. Very tough.
    Let me know what you decide. I’ll be praying for you.

  6. Ali

    How disappointing. I think after that experience coupled with a tearful Nick, I would cave and let him stay. But I’m a sucker:)

  7. Terra

    Anita, You know we are biding our time till middle school as well, It is hard to wait, it is hard to see that the day will come and wonder what the effects of the next year will have on our children. It is hard to sit back and watch and not be able to do anything. But like you, I don’t have much choice and all we can is talk to current school and try to get as much out of next year as possible.

  8. sheila

    Sounds like where your at right now isn’t as bad as first thought? Hey, what about any Charter schools in your area? Mine went to Charter school. I’ll tell you, ours was an excellent school. student to teacher ratio was about 15:1. “Tuition” was $250/yr

  9. Anita

    Susan–Yes,my girls attend the public high school, and I think this was one thing that bummed me the most. I’ve been so pleased with their education thus far in the HS. There caring and engaged teachers and administrators. I’ve been involved and thankfully my girls are only well known because of their positive attributes.
    PJ, go on play devil’s advocate…LOL. I really DID want this to be a good alternative for Nick, and I was very open, but it’s not what we think is best.
    Sheila, charter schools, well we really have none near us, and we have magnet schools, but again that is in our district, which is the entire county and while an option, but an good with with transportation or having Nick developing friends near us.
    Thank you all for your input and giving me ideas.
    My new resolve is to try to be a positive change in the school where he is. To approach or suggest change in a positive non threatening way. I can be sort of bossy……….so it’s something to work on.

  10. Lisa

    I’m guessing that Nick will excel in just about any situation because that’s how he is. But your experience at the school will set the tone and that is not a positive one for any number of valid reasons.

    I realize it’s comparing apples and oranges with public versus private school, especially on the “marketing” of the school and its programs, but there are some things you just can’t dismiss as unimportant.

    I’d mark it off the list, frankly. If you’ve got reservations, you really should listen to your instincts.

  11. Denise K.

    These life decisions are the hardest I think…you just want what is best for your son, and know there is “better” out there. I have so many opinions about this as an educator…if only state of the art teaching, great administration, and challenging classes were available everywhere; as they should be. Every child deserves the best educational environment for him/her in every situation. I will pray that the Lord brings peace in the decisions you are making, and that He leads right where Nick is meant to be. Have faith that it will work out just as it is supposed to Anita…thinking of you today, Denise

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