Week before last, Jon and I went to the open house for prospective parents at the small, inner city, public magnet school we have been for considering for our daughter C to start kindergarten next fall. We had already done due diligence: looking at test scores, speaking to parents of current and past students and learning about the curriculum. But this would be the first time we actually visited the school.
And wow! Were we ever impressed.
We spent almost two hours at the school that night, and the first thing we both noticed was the most intangible element: the school’s warm and cozy vibe. It’s a classic, brick, public elementary school that looks like it was pobably originally built sometimes between 1920-1940. And while it’s clean and in very good repair, the little school of about 500 students maintains much of its original charm, with brick walls, arched doorways and large, airy windows. And it’s all scaled for little children rather than seeming like a school for high school students that’s been retrofitted for little kids. Honestly, it reminded me of a set from “Sesame Street.”
But even with the vintage charm, the school has lots of modern touches, like smartboards in many classrooms, and a very nice library with multiple computers. Because the school has a specialized fine arts curriculum, the music room is overflowing with instruments of every kind, and the dance studio is large, airy and frankly gorgeous.
Each teacher we spoke with spent lots of time answering all our questions, and several of them explained to us that that they commute long distances from much more affluent and better rated school districts because they just love the “something special” about this extremely diverse little brick school, located downtown on the edge of a public housing project. The teachers’ enthusiasm for the school and its mission also really impressed us.
As the articulate and polite 5th grade student ambassadors toured visitors around all evening, Jon and I also noticed the incredible variety and high quality of student work displayed all over the building. Because this is a magnet school, as well as a school that serves as the primary neighborhood school for nearby families (we are one neighborhood over, but very close) every student who attends benefits from the enriched fine arts and museum curriculum. The student work that we saw the other night made it really clear that every child in the school – not just the kids who tested into the “honors” track – is getting some great teaching.
Jon and I were SO impressed with this school – which is actually as close to our house as the public elementary school for which we are zoned – that we decided that we would also apply for a spot in the “regular” magnet program there, in case C doesn’t score high enough on the entrance evaluation to land a spot in one of the two “honors” kindergarten classes.
We turned the application for both programs in the day after the open house. Fingers crossed.
UPDATE: Since writing this post (which took me a whole week to actually get around to posting here at Babble’s KidScoop) C took the entrance test, and we found out yesterday that her score was high enough to be admitted to the honors program at this school. Yippee! My next post will be about the test taking and the results-waiting…
Here are a few pix I snapped during the open house of the sweet little school we’re hoping C (and then G, in a few years, will get to attend in the fall.
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)