As a former teacher, I had grave concerns about some of the policies at my oldest daughter’s school.
Despite what is outlined on the school district’s website regarding continuous progress, some schools in the district seem to be moving away from a “continuity of caring”. Such was the case at my daughter’s school. Each year, the principal moved the teachers around, which destroys any hopes of team building among the staff and a continuity of caring for the students.
Every moment of an already jammed packed day was full of instruction, even recess. The kids had little time to be kids. Due to the governor’s newest policies, there was no room for good old fashioned tag and other recess favorites. Gone were the days of chalk drawings and hopscotch. It was replaced with mandatory teacher led P.E. instruction. In the couch potato society we live in, there is a dire need for more physical activity in a student’s day, but there is a lot to be said about the benefits of down time and a break from instruction.
At this school, parents were not viewed as an asset but rather a burden and a nuisance. The school said it encouraged parent involvement, but yet their policies sent a very different message. On numerous occasions, I offered my services to assist with enrichment for advanced learners or remediation for struggling students. My efforts were politely shunned and discouraged.
The overall climate of this neighborhood school lacked a warm and fuzzy environment, which is essential at the elementary level. The school felt cold and the staff rarely smiled. In addition, this school focused heavily on instruction and forgot how to have fun while learning. In the early years, it is crucial to develop life-long learners and a love for learning. This particular school missed the mark. If a school cannot foster a fun learning environment, then the results create boredom and ultimately kill any hopes of future learning.
But most importantly, I believe my daughter was one of the kids lost in the humdrum routine. She rarely raised her hand to participate although she always knew the answer. This bright star craved a teacher to help her shine by making her feel welcome and reassuring her that her contribution was important.
For her entire first grade, Allana stagnated. At the end of last year, I felt frustrated with this school and considered homeschooling. I knew the type of teacher Allana needed and I knew I could be that teacher.
As I searched for options, I turned to a local charter school. I had met with the principal earlier in the year and was very impressed with the philosophy of the school and its positive atmosphere. Last May, I added her name to the waitlist but she sat at number thirty on the list. Although I had hoped she would get accepted into the school, our chances seemed very slim.
Two weeks before school started, we received a phone call from the charter school. Allana had been accepted. The next day, I filled out the paperwork and made the switch to the new school without hesitation. Of course, Allana was nervous about the change and a little sad to leave her former school, but she agreed to give the new school a try for at least the first nine weeks (first quarter).
On the first day of school, I knew we had made the right choice for Allana. The staff smiled and greeted every person that walked on campus. Even the principal smiled as he welcomed back students and shook the hands of several parents. Her new teacher happily greeted each student and parent that walked through the door and didn’t seem to bat an eye that several parents stayed for a few minutes to help settle their kids into the class.
But when I picked up Allana from school that afternoon, I definitely knew we made the right choice. As soon as she hopped into the car, Allana shouted, “This was the best school day EVER!” She proceeded to tell me every detail about her day, which included real recess, a new best friend and “getting to know you necklace” that she made in Math.
I couldn’t be happier. I know Allana certainly is excited about school again.