Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Our friends thought we were crazy

(submitted by Amy McGloughlin)

When we moved from University City to Mount Airy a year before our son’s kindergarten year, our friends thought we were crazy. The elementary school in University City is new, and is funded partially by the University of Pennsylvania. But, we were confident that the good things we heard about Henry school were true.

When January of 2006 rolled around, I started to panic. What if Henry was not a good place? What if it could not meet the academic rigors that my son required?

I started looking (a little late, I’ll admit) at the options. I visited private schools, charter schools, and cooperative schools. And I started to get discouraged. A cheap private school in the area was about $8,000, and sending our son there would mean I’d need to find a new and probably less flexible job. And the good charter schools had waiting lists a mile long. And, they weren’t especially close.

Here’s the other thing I discovered about some of these private and charter schools­: their teachers were not very experienced. Sure, class sizes were good, but the teachers at these private and charter schools were fresh out of college or graduate school. Their classroom management skills were limited. If I sent my child to a private school, I’d be paying for a less experienced teaching staff. That seemed strange to me.

I went to visit Henry school. I emailed the principal, and received a reply within minutes. We toured the classrooms, and viewed the facilities. Principal Trantas answered my questions with patience and encouragement. What I discovered about the staff is that they have been teaching for years. They know how to run a classroom. They have experience that I could not get if I paid for my son’s education. And, I was encouraged by Principal Trantas to be part of the school community through volunteering in the classroom, and participating in the Home and School Association. After one short visit to Henry, I was convinced that this was the place for my son.

My husband and I sent our son to Henry, not only because we wanted to be part of the Mount Airy community in every possible way, but because it was the right place for him.

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