Photo: One of many elements of the cutest little kindergarten classroom I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Just the sweetest. And if Major ended up in this classroom, it wouldn’t be the end of the world…
Ok, so… I’m just going to go on ahead and be upfront about my own personal bullshit right here at the top of the post. Because I know I’ve been writing these posts and I’ve been really obnoxious and picky. And while last week, I think, was pretty legit, I’m recognizing that my objections to the first school was nit-picky. So, I’ve been dreading writing this post all day because I recognize that everything I’m about to write is going to come off as elitist snobbery. So… I’m gonna own my elitist snobbery. I didn’t like this school because I’m a terrible elitist snob. A member of the landed, perfumed bourgeoisie.
I’ll remind you that two weeks ago, when I visited the first school, I got a foreshadowing of how all of this was gonna play out: “There are community draws. They’ll make themselves clear to you as you visit the schools.” Well, now I get it.
The international appeal is very apparent in school number one. They own it, they love it, they are the most diverse school.
The progressive liberal, go-hard at every challenge, “we know best because we read a Harvard study” appeal is very apparent in school number two. They are the creme de la creme, they own it, they love it. (Yeah, I’m still pretty pissed about that place.)
This school? This school is the antithesis of school number 2.
I got there a little early and was the first parent in the door. I was greeted by the head of the PTO, who shook my hand and escorted me to the cafeteria. She was very warm and friendly, pointing out this and that as we went along a very long and cluttered hallway. I do mean cluttered: it was narrow to start with, but then there were trays with boots on them laid out in front of every classroom. There was stuff hanging on every portion of the wall, which was lovely, but it made the place feel that much smaller. The woman explained that the original building was built in 1949 and that there had been multiple expansions put on the building over the years. The result is a big, hodge-podgeish square “so you never get lost!”
We head down some stairs into the cafeteria set up with chairs, the regular lunch tables all pushed back. The walls were decorated with painted vegetables with funny faces on them and there were friendly reminders about this and that in student-painted posters. A woman was struggling with a projector and a powerpoint presentation. Another was setting out homemade macaroons on a plastic flower tray. I was introduced to one of the kindergarten teachers. I’ll write more about her in a minute.
Parents trickled in late for this presentation and there were a lot less of them. I noticed that many of them knew each other. They knew the teachers, too, and it was obvious that this was a teaching team that had been together for a really long time. Lots of hugs, lots of happy moments, lots of warmth. Awesome. Such a different experience from last week.
The principal, a young man not much older than I am, built like a beanpole and in a highly tailored suit, was a guy you’d wanna have a beer with. He plays the guitar, he does Zumba with the students, he’s doing nature walks with them, he DJ’s the school dance… awesome dude.
So what’s my problem?
There was no urgency to any of it. This school’s appeal is for the parent who thinks that elementary school is too high pressure. They emphasized their three outdoor classrooms, their nature walks on the large wooded campus, their “body breaks” and “mindfulness training” and “yoga in the classroom” and stuff. They were happy to tell us that this wasn’t a school with all the buzzwords or bells and whistles. This was a traditional school with a traditional vibe. The most “typical” elementary school of the bunch.
Then they had the 6th grade members of the Student Council come up and speak. One by one, cards in hand, they each spoke to us nervously. They either spoke too fast or you couldn’t hear them at all. You could tell they wanted to run away… it was cute. They were adorable. And yes, kids are kids and not everyone has the capability to stand in front of a group of adults and speak, let alone be impressive.
But you could tell that the school doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on this skill. This isn’t a school that gets kids in front of folks to speak and present. This isn’t a school that’s gonna put pressure on kids to do anything that may make them uncomfortable.
And I just… I want more for Major. I want less opportunity for him to opt-out, more opportunity to step-up. Let me manage how much pressure he feels.
But then there is this kindergarten teacher. Imagine the perfect kindergarten teacher: warm, loving, knowledgeable, flexible, giving, crafty, happy… she was all the things. And like I said before, I wanted to give her a hug, invite her over for kinklings, spend time with her and laugh with her. You know? I’m sure all the teachers were like that. Even the principal.
So what does it all mean? I’m so torn, Dear Reader. It wasn’t an awful school. It wasn’t like last week where I left angry. But I still left emotionally drained–There are things that I need my sons to get out of their education. I’m not just choosing a kindergarten, I’m choosing a K-6 experience. I want my boys to come out of 6th grade with a particular set of skills. I told ya’ll in the beginning that I’m owning my snobbery: this didn’t feel rigorous enough. It didn’t feel like I needed it to feel. That’s about me, and I know it.
So… it’s not on the bottom of my list. I think this is my third-choice school. I wouldn’t die if this is the school we ended up with. There are ways to supplement and fill in deficits, though it would come with a cost. I’m still holding out for my first-choice school, which was visited by The Husband on Monday. He really liked it: “there were fishtanks everywhere, there was a really awesome geek-culture vibe. The principal laughs a little too loudly. You could tell that these were our kind of people.”
Well, I just got an email this afternoon from the town. That school only has 15 spots available for next year.
I’m holding my breath. And searching for the best 2nd choice. Haven’t quite found it yet! Another school next week, then February break. Then my first-choice school and then the very last school and then registration day. The process marches on!
That was so obnoxious, wasn’t it? It was! I’m sorry! I know I’m being picky… So picky! But I’m learning a lot… right?
Quiet Thoughts on Friday if ya’ll don’t run me out of town.