Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Education Department

Big news out of our household's Education Department today.

Our family had a Family Interview this morning with the Elementary Counselor at the girls' new school.  Everyone thought the counselor was truly fabulous, very warm and sincere, very engaging, very thoughtful and very frank.  She makes the decision about where to place both Lilly and Sophia, and I feel that choice is in good hands.  The girls will begin school on Friday, and that morning can not come soon enough for them!

Dave and I left with an overall good impression of the school.  The elementary program seems very strong, and we feel quite good about the 2nd grade.  Lilly should be able to succeed.  Teachers pair each new student with a "buddy" to show them the ropes and eat with them at lunch, and the goal of the first few weeks is social integration into the classroom - i.e. making friends.  The curriculum is challenging but also diversified, so it can meet the needs of each individual learner in the class.  This should be great for Lilly - coming in midway through the year, she may find herself behind on some concepts, but it also allows her to bloom and be challenged as a strong reader.  The elementary program seems strong.

The early childhood program seems weak.  And sadly, Kindergarten is placed within the early childhood program.  Both our first impressions were that the kindergarten is run as an afterthought, without being taken seriously educationally.  Sophia will be one of only a very few native English speakers in her class, which makes challenging her seem unlikely.  It will also make fitting in more of a challenge.  Her classroom looked like a preschool, and not one I would choose for her.  The kindergarten teacher we met confirmed this impression by talking down to her and showing an activity she easily could have accomplished two years ago.  We are worried for her.

Within its culture, the school has a bit of a reputation for cliquishness and some problems with bullying, so we will be wise to stay on our guard.  Please keep both girls in your prayers for the next few days and weeks.  Especially Sophia - finding her perfect place may be difficult, especially as she just left a nearly perfect place back at Tuckahoe.

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