Middle School in 2009

Today, we signed our daughter up for our local, public middle school. Now let me be honest here. She has pretty much always attended the school where I have worked. The first was the American School of Bombay where we implemented a one to one laptop program back in 1999. We also brought in all three International Baccalaureate Programs. It was a thriving, buzzing and creative place for teachers and students. When we moved to this beautiful island, Marina spent one year in the public school but when I started to work at a fledgling and failing nearby independent school, we moved her over to be in a more creative environment. This was after her teacher told me that she couldn’t meet Marina’s needs because she asked too many questions. So for the last five years, I have been trying to help create an innovative elementary school that fosters creativity, risk-taking, compassion and a spirit of inquiry. However, our school ends at Grade 6 and we needed to find another option. The options were limited:

1. An independent school one hour away that costs about $10,000. Many kids and parents love it, but in my mind, it’s very far!
2. A new exciting charter school but basically an option for home schoolers. We would have to be her “learning coaches” and commit to four hours a day of coaching. She would see her teachers once a week in elluminate and once a week face to face. Since we both work full time, this does not seem like an option. Plus they don’t seem very organized yet. First group on our island starts this fall.
3. Small, local Catholic education about 20 minutes away. My first choice since we are actually Catholic and it seems safe. She could use a dose of religious education at this point in her life.
4. Our local middle school – I’ve resisted this option from the beginning. The campus is beautiful and many of her friends are going there. She got into Honors classes and I have said – aloud unfortunately – that the only way I would send her is if she was accepted into honors. (Ha! I loved the look on the teacher’s faces when I explained why she doesn’t have standardized test scores and how they only measure one aspect of a child’s talents and strengths.) Somehow, she did well on their assessments even though she wasn’t in a test driven school. Imagine that! However, I worry about her safety as I have heard some interesting stories about a culture of fighting there. Marina wants to go there though and with our economic situation, it’s the most logical place to send her. Additionally, my hubby works at the local public high school and thinks she will be fine.
So local, public middle school it is – free, honors, friends, diverse mix of kids, beautiful campus. I am trying to keep an open mind.
Stay tuned…it’s going to be a long but hopefully interesting and positive two years.
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