We had no plans of sending our daughter to private school. We moved into a good part of town with people singing the praises of the local public school. It seemed to be a no-brainer as both my husband and I attended public schools.
The time came for us to grab a school supply list and a backpack and send our oldest into the world. We walked into a school with sixteen Kindergarten classes. Sixteen. Parking was a nightmare, with car line being even more of a nightmare.
I picked up my daughter from the first day of school and we ended up walking back to the car with a dad and his daughter. This dad and I discussed the first day and how in the world the teachers could keep track of all these little people…and that’s when he pointed out the piece of tape across his daughter’s chest with her name on it.
A piece of masking tape was the only way the school could identify his daughter.
At the end of the first nine weeks, I reached out to the teacher after very little communication to see where my daughter was. I reached out to the teacher to get an update on my daughter’s letter recognition, letter sounds, her successes and her shortcomings. I tried not to hover, but here I was nine weeks into the school year with a report card full of DEs and LEs. I had no idea she was struggling, or was she where most five-year-olds were during the first nine weeks?
This is where I started my search for something else. Something tight knit. Something smaller, where my shy kid wasn’t going to get lost in the middle of the road shuffle. I stressed trying to figure out what our next step was. Did we need to take a next step? Is this as good as it gets in a city? Do we need to pay for tuition, when so many praise the local school? Maybe we just got a bad teacher? I had so many questions.
We are very lucky to live in an area with a variety of private schools. They range in size, price, Christian-based or not. After researching our options, we narrowed it down. We filled out all the applications, paid the application fees and made it through the interviews. And I was still lost.
It was spring and I was struggling. I could see my daughter progressing, but I already had the mindset for a change. I just didn’t feel comfortable and a gut feeling left me reeling for a change.
I needed a sign, a reason to make the switch.
A few days later, I received a call from the assistant principal at the private school and she discussed my daughter’s evaluation with me. She explained that she had plenty areas in which she excelled in, however there was an area in which she wasn’t as strong. She explained their classes and how my daughter would benefit.
And finally there it was. Someone was seeing my daughter.
She wasn’t just a name scribbled on a piece of masking tape. She wasn’t just another kid in the middle of the road that was doing “fine.” She was a kid that someone finally took the time to see her strengths and weaknesses, and was offered a solution to help her succeed. That was the day I completed the enrollment process for the private school.
It was in that moment that I realized this public school wasn’t what my daughter needed.
She is very meek and mild, sweet and kind, shy and passive. What we found in the private school was a smaller class size, smaller school size, and a wonderful teacher that I will never be able to fully thank for all she has done for my sweet girl. We found a place for her to fit in and feel comfortable.
This teacher has given her confidence, shown her love and patience, and has provided a safe place for my girl to bloom. This teacher memorized every student’s name and face based on an application photo prior to meet the teacher night. When we left, my daughter was in awe that she already knew her name and that meant so much to her (and me!). She sent us an email during the first day of school to let us know that she was adjusting well and fitting right in, as she was the only new-to-the-school student. She gives detailed reports of academic progress as well as social progress. I know that this teacher will be one that she remembers for the rest of her life.
We found a school that values every student for more than a test score and highlights their character over their academic successes. We found a school that makes you feel welcome every time you walk into the building. We found a school that provides special programs for parents and the whole family that are well thought-out and genuinely welcoming. We found a school with a sweet staff and a principal that truly knows every student’s name.
I am so thankful for that gut feeling, the one that told me we weren’t where we needed to be. I am so thankful that we have great options from which to choose. If you are on the fence when it comes to choosing a school, be sure to tour schools and talk to current students and teachers. I can assure you that the money we have paid has been without a doubt worth every penny. Our teacher is worth every penny. While we have only been at this school for six months, the experience has been worth every single penny.