…And then she got in

We were one of the lucky ones. Anna’s name was called sooner, rather than later, and there was a LOT more later than there was sooner. As the lottery ended, the officials moved swiftly to face us, ready for questions. Shoulder to shoulder , they unintentionally gave the impression of closing ranks, protecting the posters on which they’d just affixed a few thousand names.

Most of the names were on various waiting lists, and most of those parents slid out of the room, whispering into cell phones. From my unofficial count, it seemed that a total of five parents in the whole room had selected in this round. We all bore similar expressions: excited, sure, but also a little bit … shy? Like, we were all smiling, but no one was whooping or fist-pumping.

It felt strangely alien to win our slot, especially because we hadn’t done anything all those other parents didn’t do. As randomly and truly as it could be, this was pure, unadulterated luck. I can’t say I felt touched by fate or chosen, just … lucky.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t treat us to yet another tour of the school grounds, watching Anna’s reaction (“Three playgrounds! I LOVE this school!”), eyeing the few kids who were still around that late in the day, trying to picture her there. That night I studied their website with such fervor you’d think I was facing a test. I had silly fun going to the LandsEnd website to gaze longingly at the uniforms. Equal parts geek and just plain strange, I guess.

But now the real work begins. Tours and info sessions and meeting the teachers, and yesterday we finally got our acceptance letter in the mail (which is why I felt I couldn’t safely post this ’til today). That will all be fun. What won’t be fun is deciding, signing on the dotted line. As much weight as that lottery day carried, school choice is not a simple game; matching a kid with a charter shouldn’t ever be automatic.

By all of the published indicators, the teaching is strong. The population of kids is ethnically and socioeconomically mixed. What you can usually anticipate with accuracy is strong parental involvement, and that seems to be the case here, too. International Baccalaureate, bi-lingual (in German, which is different). Grade levels K – 8. UNIFORMS.

This is a great school, in all the general ways I know about at the moment. It’s a charter, which always requires a close look (they are given a lot of latitude, so nothing, from the way they spend their money to their school day schedule, is necessarily a given). Charters are notorious for unreliability and, in times of strife, high teacher turnover; they can often hire outside the boundaries that limit the personnel decisions traditional schools have. But this school has been around a while, which is a good sign, and its staff turnover has been low, which is a better sign.

So for now, we’ll be glad for our luck and hope the decision proves a good one, whatever it is.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 5:53 PM  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Kendra,
    I stumbled upon your blog and thought I would comment on your decision about sending your daughter to a Charter School. I have never commented on a blog and I really don’t know the protocol; but I thought I would give it a shot.
    I have two children (grown now) and one went to a typical public school. She did well and suffered as we all did through the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. My other child, my son, went to a Charter School. It was a huge decision because he has high functioning autism (Asperger’s), and taking him out of a situation where he was comfortable felt as secure as throwing dice at a craps table. It was the best decision I have ever made regarding his education during those formative years (middle school). The school was project based and very hands on. All the grades mingled with each other creating an amazing sense of community for the entire school. In essence they took care of him in a way that brought out his strengths without discarding his weaknesses; if that makes sense.

  2. I don’t know what button I pressed to post, but I was not quite ready.
    I wanted to say that sending your daughter to a Charter School is a great idea. They usually operate out of the structure of the norm; but maybe that is a good thing. In California, the public school are full of angry, frustrated (with good reason)teachers who are just focused on getting through another long day. The Charter School was full of teachers who wanted to (and did) make a difference; they weren’t afraid to explore new and innovative ways to teach the children.
    Good luck to you and your little girl on this venture into the education realm; may she learn and love to learn for the rest of her life.
    Take care
    Debra Minicus

  3. […] We met in the same room in which we’d watched her name get pulled from the hat. This time I’d remembered her DVD player and headphones so she was deep in the world of the Princess and the Pauper. I, however, fidgeted on the hard chair and stared at the two women in the front of the room who would welcome her to kindergarten. […]

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