Friday, August 28, 2009

1st Day of K

Something momentous happened last Monday… Tenley started Kindergarten. Our first week has been hectic, but good.

All that money for those2 years of pre-school has paid off. Tenster trotted off to a new class of 24 kids for 6.5 hrs a day, 5 days a week without even blinking. She’s already ahead of where she needs to be, and in some cases is already at the point they want her to be at the end of the year. She comes home everyday talking about the things they did in school, and proudly shows me her sticker for daily good behavior and her worksheets with the stars and happy faces on them.

We saw her room and met her teacher, Mrs. G, on Thursday night at Back To School night. Jeff and I both really like her- and as usual, Ten’s got her snowed: she really likes Ten and thinks she’s the “sweetest thing and so polite.” Mrs. G is really kind & enthusiastic but firm with the kids, and very open with the parents.

This school is 12 miles from our house, and as a transfer student it’s our responsibility to get her there and get her there on time…or we could lose our transfer. Jeff and I made some practice runs over the summer- and of course there was no traffic- but with 3 elementary, 2 middle & 1 high school all within 5 miles of each other we expected the worst. But, oddly, no. Getting her there takes about 20-25 minutes and is a breeze. Picking her up is another story. You have to get to the school a minimum of 30 min before they let out to get a decent parking place…on Wed. I had to park 3 blocks away.
The 8am start time has presented a challenge for all of us: getting up at 6am. Nobody in this house is a morning person, and it’s a good thing I can program the coffee maker to wake up ahead of me. The only bonus is that with an early morning and all day Kindergarten, Tenley is finally going to bed at a decent time- 9pm. This is the first time since she came home that we’ve been able to consistently get her in bed before 10pm.
So, 1 week down; 40 something to go……

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Gearing up for Kindergarten

Here’s the gear! 3 weeks from yesterday, the Tenster will head off to her first day of Kindergarten! I am actually very happy about this. While a part of me thinks “Kindergarten?? Are you kidding?? She’s only a baby!!” because I’m sure that this is what she looked like yesterday,

another part knows that she’s smart and social and ready for the next challenge. I have fond memories of the excitement that came with each new school year: the joy of picking out that years lunch box, folders, notebooks & pens (this might be where my obsession with office supplies began); wanting to meet my new teacher and see my friends; getting new clothes; and the all important selection of my desk… I hope Ten will come to feel that way about it too.
I’m also happy because 2+ years of personal angst is at an end. The “Where Will Tenley Go To School” question has been a big ulcer inducer for at least that long. See, Jeff & I both went to private school and had very superior educations when we compared with kids that were our age. So initially we planned that for Ten too. But only 1 private school in our town is secular (and we were not happy with the curriculum or the school’s policies), and all the religious ones held issues too: freaky cult-like Christian, conservative proselytizing Baptist, ruler wielding nuns at the Catholics, Episcopalian that only went to 4th grade, etc . etc. etc.

That left us with public school…and a problem. The area that we live in was a nice middle class area when my parents bought the house almost 30 years ago. Now it’s a lower (way lower) middle class area. Here are some of the stats on the school that we’re districted for:
124 in Kindergarten
1022 in the school total
70.65% Latino, 19.28% White, 5.48% African American, 1.96% Asian
75% Socioeconomically disadvantaged
48% English Learners
% of Students performing at “proficient” or “advanced” on the CA Standards Test: English 39%, Math 44%, Science 28%
Only 21.2% of students in grade 5 meet the Physical Fitness Standard for the state
The school has been in PI status (requiring state and federal intervention) for 6 years.
You can see why I was having apoplexy over sending my kid there. Moving was (sadly) out of the question, so that left us with the hope of securing an inter-district transfer. 2 years of research led me to this: anyone can apply, and if a school has fewer applicants than openings in a particular grade- then all of those applicants get in. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of openings, then it goes to a computer generated lottery. Here’s the kicker: you can only pick one school and one alternate. So on May 1st I trotted over to the District offices and applied for Tenley’s transfer. Then I twiddled my thumbs and prayed until June 24th when I got the letter that we had been approved for a transfer to our 1st choice school! I was so excited I almost cried, and did jump up and down while screaming like I’d won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right. As a comparison, here are the stats of the school that Ten starts in 20 days:
86 in Kindergarten (which is full day K as opposed to ½ day!)
826 in the school total
50.48% White, 29.6% Latino, 8.6% African American, 8.5% Asian
17% Socioeconomically disadvantaged
7% English Learners
% of Students performing at “proficient” or “advanced” on the CA Standards Test: English 64%, Math 68%, Science 65%
31.1% of students in grade 5 meet the Physical Fitness Standard for the state
The school is not in PI. It is ranked 8th out of all schools (elementary, middle, high) in our district.
I have now breathed a sigh of relief. As a bonus, one of Ten’s friends at her pre-school also got a transfer to the same school- so now I’m praying that they’re in the same class, but we won’t find out until the 21st.
Let the learning begin!!