Thursday, October 20, 2016

The New School

I have always been in or around school.  When I was growing up, my Mama worked in the library or pre-K of the school my siblings attended.  When I started middle school, she worked in the local elementary school.  When I was in high school, I would go to her class and help out.  While I was in college, I began substitute teaching.  When my Cecely started school, I substituted until I could get a job as an assistant.  I have always been around and in schools.

I have received some mixed (unsolicited) opinions about where my children go to school.  Some people in the public school system can't believe I would have my kiddos in a charter school.  Some people who share our same faith values don't understand why I would allow Cecely and Titus to be in a non-traditional, "liberal" school.  I have had the advantage of working in a variety of school environments.  Being the parent of a child with special needs and an IEP (individualized educational plan), it is imperative to be in a school where she can get the support she needs and is given opportunities to shine.  Having been told by public school educators that she had "plateaued" and wouldn't be able to make growth led me to take her out of school and spend time homeschooling her.  When my first husband left, I lost the option to homeschool and had to work full-time.  I have loved the public schools my children have attended--they were filled with amazing educators.  However, the public school system is over-extended both with resources and staff.

So, this is me addressing why my kiddos are where they are in school.  Francine Delany New School for Children is an incredible place.  Cecely was able to enter school there last school year.  When I filled out her application, I prayed over it.  I had my closest friends and family praying, too.  I wanted to KNOW this is where God wanted her.  If she didn't get in, it would be ok.  She would go back to public school, and I would fight like heck to get her the services she needed.  Thankfully, her number was drawn, and she was able to begin her 6th grade year at Francine Delany New School for Children.

I remember our first IEP meeting.  It was the first time I had sat down with every professional and teacher who was working with Cecely for an entire meeting where the adults were working with one another.  The physical therapist was talking with the science teacher about what things she could do with Cecely to help her with her science work.  It was the first IEP meeting where I didn't cry; well, where I didn't cry tears of sadness but of joy because I finally felt I was being heard, and Cecely was being fought for.

Titus was hoping to get into Francine Delany, but he was nervous because he was used to his old school.  We were doubly blessed when Titus was able to begin his 5th grade year there this year!  Titus is on the other end of the academic spectrum.  He needs extra challenges so he doesn't get complacent.

So, I'm going to just hit some of the reasons our family LOVES Francine Delany New School for Children:
  • It is a social justice school--this means our kids are learning about and talking about real issues that are currently happening in the world and learning from issues from our country's past.  This leads to deep conversations at home, and I believe this is helping prepare our children to handle the real world as they grow up.  They aren't staying in a bubble.  They are going to learn  how to love and minister to people who think and believe differently than we do.
  • The teachers and staff ROCK!!!  They love deeply, they care greatly and they are incredibly talented.
  • It is a safe place.  Cecely can be Cecely, Titus can be Titus.  Cecely is not pointed out for being "different" or "slow".  She is loved on by the whole school.  Titus can wear his athletic wear and hats everyday, matching or not, and no one is concerned about it.  The teachers are caring and encouraging.  The kids are kids...not little adults...I love that.
  • It is a creative place.  Cecely can be a poet.  She is encouraged to share her thoughts and be expressive.  Titus can learn to be creative.  He has begun to write and share emotions that have been bottled up for a few years.
  • It is a community.  People care about one another.  They know each other.  The check in with each other.  They encourage one another.  
  • It is a fun place!  This school is full of adults who fully believe in learning to be engaging and fun.  The activities in the classroom are enjoyable.  The conversations range from light-hearted to challenging, but even the "hard topics" are wrapped up in love and are often given touches of humor.  
  • It is where my kiddos want to be.  This has been the 1st school year where BOTH of my kiddos come home from school speaking of how much they love their class, their teachers, and their school.  They don't want to miss school.  They want to be there whenever the doors are open.
  • It is where God wants my kiddos to be.  It isn't a Christian school.  It's not a traditional school.  But, it is where He has them--for a reason!
Thank you, Francine Delany New School for Children staff, teachers, volunteers, and everyone else for how you love Cecely and Titus, how you care for your children, how you use your gifts and talents to teach, and how your excitement for life is contagious! 

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