Sunday, June 1, 2014

Small schools

I went to public school.  My mother raised me on child support ($366/month) and food stamps ($285/month).  There was no money for either private school or curriculum. 

So, I went to public school.  It was a very small school--my graduating class had 40 students; the one before me had 36, and the one after me had 38.  Our library was a 15'x25' room with 2/3 of the shelves holding fiction, and a quarter of the rest holding dictionaries and encyclopedias.  There were something like ten or twelve classrooms, a standard sized gym (biggest room in the school), cafeteria (second biggest room), and seven hour-long classes that I sat through every day. 

I knew everybody in the school.  Knew most of the crap that went on in their lives, too--when the school counselor was too busy, people tended to seek me out and talk to me.  I think there were one or two others, but I never knew who they were.  Probably other disinterested outcasts that wouldn't spread rumors.

Every one of the teachers--even the ones I never had class with--knew who I was.  The school's secretaries knew who I was (and who everybody else was).  The principal knew who I was (he had to--he'd been the middle school science teacher until the end of my seventh grade year).  The vice principal was the history teacher. 

When memories I'd repressed started coming back my freshman year, I was also trying to mediate a relationship breakup between two of my best friends.  And the stress made me incredibly sick.  Mom suspected me of bulimia, but bulimics make themselves throw up.  I couldn't make myself stop throwing up.  I dropped thirty pounds in about a month, and my grades started slipping.

And the faculty noticed. 

My first class was a math class--and it was my first class of the day I was sickest for.  The teacher noted how terribly nervous I was in the middle of the room, and moved me into the back corner away from the door, and put my friend between me and the rest of the room.  The rest of the teachers did similar.

That year, my last hour was a study hall.  I started out serving it during the biggest Home Ec class of the day, in the Home Ec classroom...and the teacher noticed how worn I was and pulled me aside to ask me what I needed.  And then she took me to the office, and through the office, to the library (which was closed, because the afternoon librarian went home in the middle of sixth hour).  She helped me set up in the corner, and told me that this was my study hall for the rest of the year. 

Small schools notice their students, and notice when their students are having problems. 

I was, however, bored out of my mind.  There was no challenge whatsoever.  My teachers noticed that, too--I walked into my first freshman year English class reading Hamlet, and scared the shit out of the teacher that I'd be bored and make trouble.  She ended up letting me read what I wanted, so long as I kept up with the work.  History was much the same, and so were most of the other classes (except math--I sucked at math).  I coasted through everything, and the teachers saw that, too.  So they assigned me to sit next to the people having the most trouble in their classes during the rest of my time there, and asked me to help.

Small schools also notice if their students are incredibly advanced--or very much the other way. 

The school we've chosen for the imp is very small.  Their normal graduating classes are 34-38.  All grades are in one building.  There are two classrooms for each grade through the elementary years.  The teachers and the faculty will get to know my son, and probably come to care a great deal for him.  Yes, he can be incredibly obnoxious, but he's also very lovable and sweet.  And smart--did I mention that the kid blew off only what he knew he did well on in the second kindergarten assessment? 

Unlike the public school I went to, the small private school the imp is enrolled in (and the pixie is enrolled in preschool in) has a challenging curriculum.  It's designed to create good students, and to challenge great ones.  I've looked through the curriculum, and if school in general turns out to be not for the imp, I'm probably going to spend what I would have spent on his tuition on the curriculum that the school uses, and keep him going in that. 

The imp wants to learn to eventually design and build a suit of powered armor.  This is the best possible start I can give him toward that end: a small school where he won't slip through the cracks (or be deemed a "problem" with the faculty wanting to drug him into a zombie), with a curriculum that starts out challenging, then increases that level of challenge with each year.

This is also a school that has a strong moral base, and hasn't ever had an issue like the local big district has had with pedophile teachers, and twelve and thirteen year old kids watching porn on the bus.  A school that will aid me in parenting my kids, rather than undermine me in teaching them to be good and decent adults. 


  1. You done good, mom. :-)
    (yeah, irritating for an English teacher to read this comment, sorry.)

    1. Nah, I think of blogging as informal in tone--dialect and colloquialisms are welcome. :-D