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Mar 19, 2009

The rest of the story

I've decided that instead of hashing out the gory details behind my adult "aha" moment, a brief synopsis will suffice. Believe me...this is the brief version of events.

The bottom line: On the Monday after Spring Break, Zachary will attend a new school.

This came about suddenly, and yet momentum has been building for months. It's been a bit of a rough school year for our little boy, partly because Zach is our oldest and we've struggled with knowing when to intervene and when to let things slide. We haven't been able to communicate with Zach's teacher very well, and our concerns about academic progress and (seemingly related) behavior issues haven't resolved to our satisfaction. Things came to a head last week when Zach's teacher informed us of several new challenges.

We live in a school district that offers open enrollment, or the option to choose which school our children attend. There is an annual "choice" window during which parents can apply to transfer schools. We considered submitting a transfer application this year, but I convinced myself that our troubles would improve next year with a different teacher and a fresh start. The choice window closed at the end of February.

Then, on Monday, I happened to talk with a mom whose concerns about our current school and her own children's future there really troubled me. The outlook for better teachers and a more positive experience looked bleak. I felt guilty about not following through with my gut feelings about a transfer. This mom encouraged me to pursue the option anyway, and with Garry heartily on board, on Tuesday I pursued it.

It was a difficult and emotionally draining process. Operating outside the choice window seemed impossible, but after a number of difficult conversations with district office personnel, our current principal, and staff at a new school, I learned we only had one option that would guarantee Zachary and Tyler seats at a better school in the fall. That option was transferring Zachary for the remainder of this school year.

Uprooting Zachary for the fourth quarter seemed harsh. I worried about Zachary's reaction. I dreaded the confrontation with his current teacher and principal that a sudden transfer would inevitably cause. But after weighing our options, it seemed like the best one. So I wrote a couple of letters, emailed them to the right people, and started the process.

By Wednesday morning, everything was official. Paperwork signed and dated by old and new principals. Awkward emails exchanged with the current teacher. A parent-teacher conference canceled. New student packets filled out at the new school. A tough conversation with Zachary. A few tears. His last day of school. Hopefully the hardest parts are behind us.

Zachary took cupcakes to his classmates and collected his friends' phone numbers yesterday. He came home with a stack of school work and a big grin on his face. Apparently his last day was a blast. He gets to meet his new teacher and tour his new school this morning. I think part of him is excited for a new adventure. And I know he'll do well.

As for me, I feel more settled about his education and his overall school experience than I have in months. We are headed in the right direction now; we just had to stumble a little before finding the path.
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