Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why they chose Henry

After another year of meeting with families considering school options for their children, we asked who's starting Henry in the fall. Here's a sampling of the responses: (responses edited to remove childrens' names and for brevity)

Have you decided to send your child/children to Henry this fall? Why or why not?

Yes. Henry is close (within walking distance), has adequate standardized test scores (actually more than adequate in comparison with other public schools and publicly-funded charters), improving diversity numbers, two nice outdoor play areas, an outstanding principal, and an active parents group. We also know at least four other families sending their children to kindergarten at Henry. Since we're in the catchment, it seemed silly not to give it a try.

Did you apply to Henry from another catchment area? If so, what happened?


Can you provide other comments that might help us understand your decision or the landscape overall?

We also applied to Green Woods Charter (and drew a much-envied second place spot on their waitlist). However, after really looking at both Henry and Green Woods, we realized that Henry offered more of what we want for our child and, honestly, seems like a better overall fit when you look past the razzle-dazzle of that charter. I think two things contributed to that decision: 1) the "vibe" that we got from the administrators, teachers, and parents at both schools and 2) the fact that we know parents who are and who will be sending their kids there. Nothing is more frightening than the unknown and knowing that we're not in this alone makes Henry seem like the best decision for our family.

Hi Nancy- We are sending our daughter to Henry in September for kindergarten. We toured the school a few months ago and will register her before the end of the month. We live in West Mt. Airy and are happy that Henry is our neighborhood school. Although we have talked about other schools and spoken with friends about private school, we think it's important to support our public schools. My husband is an educator (9 years in the Phila school district, and this past year in Springfield Township in Montgomery County) and he's very comfortable with Henry.

During our visit, we saw that the students were engaged, focused on their work and also very excited for that evening's school play. The teachers were very friendly and open to answering questions. Overall, we are confident that our daughter will get a strong start at Henry and quite frankly we are not at all interested in paying $15,000 a year (or more) for private school when we have a solid neighborhood public school. Diversity is also very important to us, not just in terms of race, but also economics. We want our daughter to have friends and spend time with young people of various economic and racial backgrounds and we were concerned about a lack of such diversity at some of the private schools. Of course, we'll revisit our decision every year while our daughter is at Henry to determine if it's still a good fit for her (and us), but for now we're looking forward to September!

Hi Nancy – our daughter is enrolled at Henry for the fall. Key factors in our decision were location, cost, parent involvement, and more diversity than our neighborhood school. We also know about five families who are going there so that helped a lot.

Have you decided to send your child/children to Henry this fall? Why or why not?

Yes, we'll be sending our son to Henry this fall. We considered Henry our best public-school option because of the nice neighborhood, the warm vibes from the staff, the spacious kindergarten rooms, and the very-active parents organizations.

We are a family who would not consider going to our catchment-area school. If our son did not get into Henry I was going to have to consider home-schooling (not something I wanted to do!!), or going around begging at the private schools.

I really think Philadelphia needs to keep families like ours in the public schools and I wish it were an easier process. I think the advocacy work that you and Kevin are doing is fabulous!! I don't know if we'd be in this position without it.


Wanted to say that we really appreciated the meetings at your house, they were helpful, enjoyable and thought provoking. We live and work in Germantown and are very grateful to have Henry as an option.

We went about a month ago and got a tour of the school. It definitely fueled our desire to be a part of Henry and we are hopeful that it will happen! So Henry is our first choice plan for our son’s Kindergarten.

Dear Nancy (and Kevin),

We wanted to thank you again for hosting the Henry meetings. It was very informative for us to attend, and it only further encouraged us to try and buy our first home within the catchment for Henry. The great news is, we did just that! We bought a house on the 500 block of Wellesley, which we are just thrilled about. So, even though we don't have kids yet, we certainly plan on it, and plan on being in that house for a long time. And when the time comes, our little ones will go to Henry!

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