There's a lot I need to finish. The renovations we have made to the house are on schedule, but there is still much work to be done. The family room needs to be livable by the time Julie visits in two weeks. That means that there are boards to stain and shellack, couches to buy, blinds to hang. Much, much work.
For the first time in quite some time there are also questions about school.
Not about me. I'm set to teach German again this year, along with two English classes. I will be adding podcasting to my teaching repertoire, using it to teach vocabulary words and dialogue in German--and to teach some cool things about German history and culture, too. It will be my fifth year at Station Camp High School, and my longest teaching stint to date looks pretty certain to continue indefinitely.
Ellie is looking forward to middle school. As you may remember from a previous post, she finished the school year at a public elementary school near where I teach. She loved it. She felt challenged by the work and respected by her teachers. She can't wait to get into 6th grade--6th through 8th grades attend middle school in my county, followed by high school.
The cool thing is that Knox Doss Middle School is just down the street from where I teach. On a decent day, she will walk over to my classroom after she finishes her class work and track practice.
Now Jenny and I are wondering about the boys. Owen will enter 2nd grade this year, and Jonah will be in Kindergarten. A new public elementary school just opened up on the campus where I teach, and I am leaning toward enrolling them there--70% certain--instead of returning them to Highland Elementary, the school that both I and my dad graduated from (1985 and 1958, respecitvely).
I need your prayers and your heartfelt thoughts. Perhaps by sharing this dilemma on my blog, I'll be able to sort this out a little better.
I don't need any prejudice. Please don't tell me what you've "heard" about public schools or speculate about the curriculum or fellow students. I have ten years experience teaching in public schools, and I have friends who teach at Station Camp Elementary.
This is how it breaks down. I'll start with the pros, since that's the way I'm leaning.
- The education. The teachers are all highly qualified, and the curriculum is up to date and a little more challenging. Ellie learned more about science and history in the last 11 weeks at JAES than she had learned in 25 at Highland. This year she will take honors 6th-grade English. The teacher told me they learn 5-paragraph essays. I learned how to write a 5-paragraph essay in college. Owen will qualify for advanced classes that should stimulate him and meet his gifted needs.
- Convenient location. The boys will be right next door. Their school would get out at 3:45; mine gets out at 3:15, so I would be able to pick them up every day as I was leaving. Last year, we had to arrange for friends to pick them up after school or pay $14 an hour to have them in after-school care at Highland. It was complicated, because they seemed to be at a different place every day.
- Cost. About $600 a month--although public school isn't necessarily free.
- Friends. It's a good school in an upper-middle class neighborhood. The kids are about twice as likely to get invited to a program at one of the megachurches in the area as anything negative.
- Faith. Jenny and I have no reason to invest in a lifelong attachment to Adventism, since we ourselves have moved on a different faith community. We don't want our kids fantasizing about Heaven or speculating on the Second Coming. We want them to learn to live Christian lives within the community God has given us. The onus would be on Jenny and me, however, to teach what we believe and encourage positive interactions with their teachers and friends.
- Owen doesn't wish to leave.
- Friends. Owen and Jonah have good friends at Highland Elementary. They like the people they go to school with, and they don't have an overarching reason to leave (in the way that Ellie was struggling with teachers).
- Family. It was tough enough on my family when Ellie left Highland. I feel like many of them are so prejudiced that they are now banking on her failure in life to prove me wrong. When she was faring poorly at Highland, my dad was one who jumped on the "there's something wrong at home" spin, instead of confronting some of the issues that were going on at school. If I send the boys to Station Camp, I might as well be putting them on a yellow school bus to hell.
One thing I learned as a teacher is that it's easier to be a Christian in a public school environment. I think the choices are starker, the outcomes more clear. One doesn't get bogged down in trivial stuff.
Comment below. I welcome your ideas.