Can you believe it? In just five days, FIVE, kiddo number two will hit the doors of school for the first time. With Will, I did ok. If I recall correctly, his exact words when we dropped him off were, “Mom, Dad, you can go ahead and go. I’ll be fine.” In one quick sentiment, we moved from a permanent fixture in his life, to the people that drop him off and pick him up from school.
Whether he knew it or not, though, Will did me a favor. He allowed me to see his confident self strolling into a new school with all new faces and he loved every minute. Still does. He cannot wait to go back. I love that about him.
Then, there is John Paul.
I’m really having a tough time seeing him off to school. I’ll certainly miss his presence at the house, but more than that…I’m having a hard time realizing he’s old enough to skip to kindergarten. How did those five years zoom past my eyes so quickly? But, I’ve got my big girl underwear all ready for next Tuesday.
Some folks have asked why we send the kids to Catholic school. It’s certainly not because I like writing the tuition check every month (ha ha), but we’ve never seen it as a sacrifice. Sure, it takes some serious budgeting on our part and some important decision-making, but it’s a joy to send them to school every morning…here’s why:
1. Uniforms. Our only choice is short pants or long? It makes school shopping a breeze. We were in and out in less than 20 minutes for both boys!
2. The majority of parents share our value set. That’s not to say that there are some who send their kids there just because it’s a private school, but for the most part we have shared commonality right off the bat. It provides a great sense of community for us, and our children.
3. Where else can your children go to the same school, K-8th grade? As a matter of fact, the new Catholic high school is just 100-feet away from the elementary / middle school, so that means our two-minute commute stays the same for about the next 18 years.
4. The mentor relationship between the younger and older ones is really inspiring to see. It’s a great honor to watch those middle school students really relish in the status as a role model for the younger ones.
5. The seamless meshing of our faith and education into one is probably my greatest joy in sending the kids to Catholic school. What they do and learn in school is merely an extension of our home.
6. The celebration of Mass once a week is really awesome. Although Will did ask why he “has” to go twice a week, that’s when I reminded him that if he becomes a priest, he “gets” to go seven days a week!
7. The presence of priests and religious around our children every day. There is something that inspires you to be holy when you are in the presence of people who have made a very visible commitment to serving God. We are honored to know many lay people who do this as well, but to have that priest and Dominican nun presence encourages us all to see the world through the Holy Spirit’s eyes. Talk about inspiration!
8. The dedication of our teachers. Now, let me begin by saying I am the proud daughter of a public school teacher. I went to public schools and turned out not too bad! I know that teachers don’t get paid near what they’re worth. It’s a reality that our teachers’ pay is about 90% of public schools. I appreciate their sacrifice more than they know.
9. Discipline is importante. There are no nuns whacking kids wrists with rulers anymore, but staff take this aspect of education seriously and, fortunately, get parents’ support much of the time. That cooperation between staff and parents really makes a difference with how much time our children are learning in the classroom.
10. That it doesn’t feel like school. In other words, I don’t join in a sea of unfamiliar faces each morning at drop-off (ok, I might feel like that until we meet all the parents the first week at the new school, but go with me here). Rather, I see those same faces at Mass, the grocery store, the neighborhood and running errands.
That is why, without a doubt, I am a fan of vouchers. As parents, we should have a say in where our children, our most precious resource, get their most important gift – education. Someday I hope that’s a reality.
That parents have a say.
That teachers get paid what they’re worth.
That all children flourish in an academic setting.
Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I too, have a dream…