Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Choosing a School, Part One: Why I Chose

I've been feeling the need to write something about the choice we made for Eliana's school and decided to finally sit down and do it.  There were a lot of reasons that I went through everything I did in choosing a school.  The biggest reason was that I wanted to make sure I was making a long term decision (can you say junior high? Ick.) that was best and that it was the best for our family.  What's best for our family isn't necessarily the best for everyone and I know that there are people out there who believe this choice was a mistake.  That's okay.  I am confident in the choice we made because I went into it with a lot of thought and care, as well as plenty of prayer.  I talked to other parents, read everything I could on each school's website (really, I did), studied up on the schools' proficiency rates in all the subjects, made a list of questions that were important to me, and visited the schools with my list in hand.  I was thorough, as I wanted to make this decision only once.

When I was a teacher I saw a different side of education than I did as a student.  I only taught school for two years, but by the end of those two years I was pretty dead set on sending my kids to a charter school.  That was a rather naive view of things and I had to consciously take those blinders off so I could see what would be the best decision for Ellie and for our family.

After all the preparation and prayer my choice was Liberty Academy.  There was another charter school that I knocked out of the running fairly early on.  The other choice was our neighborhood school in the regular school district.  I didn't look at any private schools because I believe in public education and because there's currently no room in our budget for tuition.  I was very pleased with the neighborhood school and what they had to offer.  I liked their plans for how to improve the school and to reward students for good behavior.  I was also very pleased with Liberty and their greater flexibility to work with students in smaller learning groups.

In the end I chose Liberty over the neighborhood school through the Spirit (or by gut feeling if that's more your cup of tea).  I would have been happy sending Ellie to kindergarten at either school.  I have no problems with our neighborhood school.  There was just something about Liberty that felt best rather than good.  I wasn't sure why it felt that way; I just knew that it did.  So I went with it.  Now, several months later, some major changes are taking place at Liberty.  And I'm excited for them.  Very excited.  I feel that these changes are the reason that Liberty was the best choice for us.  Again, I wouldn't say it's the best for everyone.  That's the beauty of different choices and different ways of doing things: you can find the best fit for your family.

The decision was recently made for Liberty Academy to become a campus for American Preparatory Academy.  This year will be a trial year.  The decision was made because the director (principal) announced his retirement and because parents were unhappy with the math and reading programs being used by Liberty.  It was confusing to both students and parents.  I went to a parent meeting at which the board announced they would be looking for a new director or that they were looking at joining with APA.  There were a lot of emotions in that room, ranging from parents who were begging for a change to a few teachers and parents who threatened to leave if the change to APA was made to one parent who basically told the teachers they were employed by the parents and they were free to quit if they didn't like it.  I was glad that I could be there as an emotionless observer so I could see all the sides without a previously formed bias.  Watching it all made me slightly nervous but, oddly enough, by the end of the meeting I was energized and even more confident in my decision about what would be best for us.

1 comment:

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