My kids entered public school just before Thanksgiving. Zoë was in the fourth grade, Grey was in the first. The most diplomatic thing I can say about that year was that it was a mixed bag. Grey’s teacher was wonderful. I met with her early on to discuss some of Grey’s quirks. I didn’t yet have a full handle on them myself, but I did the best I could, and she listened and took notes. Then she implemented techniques to help him succeed in her classroom. It was amazing. I would’ve thought all my problems were over, would’ve thought the future of my children’s education was in good hands but for one thing: Zoë’s teacher was an idiot.
I do not say this lightly. I’m married to a teacher; my mother-in-law is a teacher; I was my children’s teacher for a year and a half. I am extremely forgiving of teachers. But this lady was a piece of work. She’d consistently send back graded papers with the wrong answers. When I went in to ask if there was a way I could help Zoë study for her spelling test, if, for example, she could actually bring the list home to study, instead of having to return it daily, her teacher decided to move Zoë from her original group, that was working on words like “circumnavigate” and “perambulatory”, to a spelling group whose most challenging word was “peaches.” She moved her back when I mentioned that removing the challenge might not be the best way to encourage good study habits. When Zoë asked if Attila the Hun would be considered a nomad (he did move around a lot) even though he primarily killed people, her teacher said she’d never heard of Attila the Hun. WHAT? I mean, it’s ok if you’ve forgotten who he is, or even that he is a he, but really? Never heard of him? Hadn’t she ever heard a first grader sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?
It just so happened, that right about the time I was beginning to despair my husband’s school announced that they would be offering tuition breaks for faculty in the fall. Hallelujah! It was decided that Zoë and Grey would attend Currey Ingram. They began there in the fall of 2013 and that’s where they are today. It’s an amazing school. It has been an incredible experience. I could go on and on, but I already have, just a couple weeks back.
The only issue we have is that CIA is an hour away from our home. You’d think this is no big deal since Mike teaches there, but the problem is that the kids’ school day runs 7:45 – 3:15 and Mike’s work day (he teaches theatre) runs 10-6. This means Mike and the two big kids are out of the house at 6:45am (before the little girls get up) and don’t return until 7pm (right as the little girls are going to bed) Monday – Friday.
Why doth this suck? Oh let me count the ways:
- The big kids can’t participate in any extracurricular activities outside of those offered by the school.
- Since they spend all of their time so far from home, they have no friends nearby to play with on the weekends or school breaks.
- I see my older children for an hour a day. That did-you-do-your-homework-what-do-I-need-to-sign-put-your-shoes-away-eat-faster-brush-your-teeth hour of the day right before bed. There’s not even time for them to bathe unless I want them staying up until 10pm or getting up at 5.
- Not only do my little girls not get to see their sister and brother during the week, they also don’t get to spend any time with their father.
- I get to make dinner twice a day. And I used to like to cook…
- In fact, I get to do everything twice. Because I’m raising two different families under one roof.
No more of this…
So we’ve decided, after much back and forth, that Zoë and Grey will not go to Currey Ingram next year. It does feel a bit like saying, “I’m sorry Harvard, I can’t stay. I’m homesick.” But there it is. They’ve got their entire lives to show up only long enough to drop off dirty clothes. Must it start in the 3rd grade?
What’s next? Well, we recently moved into a district that supposedly has wonderful schools. These schools are close by, and the bus driver lives right behind us. I figured the kids would go there. Grey would be coming in for the middle year of elementary school and Zoë would be smack in the center of middle school, but whatever, they’re outgoing kids. They’ll make friends. I’ve been asking all my new neighborhood piano students what they think of their teachers. I’ve been considering dropping by for a visit.
And then, out of the blue, Zoë hands me this:
You gotta hand it to her. Putting her baby sister’s photo on the cover of her “report” is pure marketing genius. I can’t speak to the Grand Canyon shot, maybe she’s hoping for more epic adventures. In any case, we now have a whole different path to consider. It’s true, I did move all the bins of homeschooling materials from our old house to our new house. I put them away neatly in the library. I’m just not sure I’m ready to pull them out. It looks like there is a Rory Gilmore style pro/con list looming in my future.
In the meantime, perhaps I’ll have Zoë rework this little report: Elaborate on her reasons, reduce her redundancies, smooth her transitions and correct her grammar. It could be a test run. It could be her first assignment.