At the beginning of the year, I registered my children to be in the random drawings to get into one of four charter schools near our home. While, I am interested in a better academic experience, and in choosing a better school for my child. I honestly was just enrolling into anything and everything I was willing to drive my child to.
So, the four candidates were North Star Academy, American Preparatory Academy, Channing Hall, and Summit Academy. Each of these had pros and cons, but honestly I figured that they would be better than the current public education that my children were getting, and provide a more rounded experience for my children than homeschooling. Let’s take a quick look at my thoughts on each of the schools (note that they are listed in order of proximity to our home).
North Star Academy
This was perhaps our first choice of all of the schools. Yes, it was simply because it was the school closest to our home, but I was sure that it would provide better than the public school. Also, we have neighbors who have children attending this school and that makes it easier to carpool. However, it seems that this school also offered a great curriculum and format for our family (including a non-traditional 10-month school year).
American Preparatory Academy
One of the things I liked about this school was a strong emphasis on reading. However, other aspects of the philosophy and approach had me nervous. I don’t know that I can give concrete reasons. However, it just seems to me that the approach is more of a “you’re-okay,-I’m-okay” mindset. And I want my children to understand that there are rights and wrongs in this world. I also know one of the teachers, and frankly, I am not sure she is someone I want teaching my children.
The only thing that I really liked about this school was that it offers the International Baccalaureate Program. This program offers an excellent preparatory school program for secondary education. From this, I would assume that they provide a great education for elementary level as well. However, the school does appear to be a little too “private-school” like to me. But that is just a mere personal impression based on the web site.
Perhaps our least favorite school for a couple of reasons. The first was that this is the farthest away from our home. Second, this school has a strong emphasis on homework. My wife is bothered by too much homework. She feels that if a teacher can’t do it in class then he probably isn’t a very good teacher. Plus, she feels that too much work can be detrimental on children; they need their play time too. During an open house visit they held back in March, we learned that this school offers a teacher and an instructor for each class. The teacher provides the primary instruction, while the instructor works more individually with each kid (in groups) to help them reach their potential. I really like the focus on working with kids at their level.
The Winner Is…
Well, I am hoping it is my daughter who is attending this school. However, the school that offered us a position at their institution is Summit Academy. Yep, as is my luck, I always get my least desired pick.
We were able to get in because they added a junior high program to their school. In relation to this addition, they also added another class for each grade. Thus, to fill the classes, our kids were selected.
When I got the phone call, I was both excited and nervous. I had committed my wife to having our kids go to a charter school if we managed to get accepted. However, I really didn’t feel right to keeping her to that commitment. So, I opened it up to each of the three kids are who school aged.
The oldest, PandaMae, has been pretty determined for a year now that she wants to home school, so she will not be going. The youngest, BO, was a question mark, but ultimately he decided that he wanted to home school again. The middle child, Miss Jo, was the only one who had any interest in public school, so she and I had a long talk. Finally, after explaining to her that they had an orchestra program and she could learn the violin. She eagerly agreed to go. Not to mention that she wasn’t keen on the idea of her assigned teacher at the public school.
So, tomorrow I get to take my daughter to her first day at a charter school. I am eager to get involved in the program and to help my daughter do her best.
Miss Jo has always had an attitude that she will do as little as she can get by with. “Just enough” is almost her motto in life. I am hoping that this more rigorous academic program will teach her to put her best foot forward and to work hard, to do more if you can, and to make it your best work. Only time will tell, but I am excited and nervous for this change.