Torn Between Two Schools, Feeling Like a Fool….
Which School do I support?
I can’t help but wonder how it will make sense to divide my resources between our Neighborhood School and the New Gifted School (where our son will be attending this Fall.) I’ve been involved with the Neighborhood School for over 2 years now and I’m very emotionally tied to the place, even though I’m not currently a school parent AND I will on the LSC there for the next two years as a community member.
I also strongly believe that everyone in the city should support their neighborhood school. In a purely selfish sense, it increases all our property values to have a great local school within walking distance. It also improves the community aspect of the neighborhood to have the kids attending school together.
However…our son will be attending his new school specifically for the new Regional Gifted Program they’re opening. Even though it would be so great to walk to the Neighborhood School every day, we felt compelled to give the gifted thing a try. (Despite the occasional panic that he will promptly flunk out within the first month.) So of course I want to be actively involved in my son’s school. It certainly makes sense to be part of the parent group there and the “Friends Of” group, since all the fundraising and volunteer effort will make it a better place for my son. Also, after running up the learning curve at the Neighborhood School, I feel like I have a lot of ideas and input to share at the new place. So I was really excited to dive in over there.
About a month ago though, I had an interesting conversation with a mom who lives in the New Gifted School district but sends her kids to private school (New Gifted School is a neighborhood school as well.) She was complaining that the school isn’t doing much to attract people like her to attend. She noted that she’s always at the school playground with her kids, but the principal never comes out to introduce herself. She’s thought about going to the fundraisers, but all they’ve done is “leave a baggie on her door.” Basically, she was saying (truthfully) that New Gifted School just doesn’t get the marketing angle of the business. She’s right. There are very few CPS schools that really GET IT when it comes to attracting new families. It just isn’t their business. Education is. I admitted there was probably more they could do and promised her that come the Fall, I’d be eagerly doing my part to make it happen there! Look out school, here comes one Gung Ho mom!
Then after I got home, I started re-thinking it… why should I bust my butt to increase the property values in HER neighborhood? I’ve been doing it at the Neighborhood School for 2 years and my kid doesn’t go there! Shouldn’t she do the same at New Gifted School if she wants a good neighborhood school (which she claims she does… of course who wouldn’t if you can get it without lifting a finger?) Why doesn’t she actually step foot in the place suggest some ideas? Offer to help out at the school? Go out on a freezing cold night taping flyer to lamp-posts (OK, I just did that a few times, but the whipping winds and overly sticky tape still haunt me.)
It left me feeling torn. I only have so many hours in a week to help out. Where do I donate my time? My Box Tops? My school auction budget? My Target Red Card dollars?
I suppose I may have to wait for the Fall to see how I feel. New Gifted School doesn’t really feel like “our” school just yet but I’m guessing that will change after my son has been there a while.
For now, the Box Tops remain uncommitted in a baggie.