In a previous post, I expressed my trepidation over maneuvering the overwhelming New Orleans school system. I was not born and raised here, so my knowledge of the city’s school system previous to this year was close to none. After many hours spent doing research, bothering my fellow contributors for their opinion and touring multiple schools, we’ve found our top schools and learned so much. We learned a lot about the schools and were also able to uncover some previously unknown truths about ourselves as parents as well.
I kept hearing from everyone that you just have to go on the tours and get a feeling for where you and your child will best fit in. Hearing this over and over again was beyond annoying. I grew up an area where you went to school in the neighborhood in which you lived. That was it. You didn’t search for a place where you fit in, you learned to get along with whomever was there. Initially, the idea of getting a good vibe or finding where we felt we fit in seemed like a contrived and rather superficial way of picking a school. I was convinced that there would be concrete test scores or curriculum that was obviously better suited for our child. I was looking for something tangible that we could cling to as justification for our placement.
Now, after months of touring, I am able to see that each school has pros and cons to their facilities and their curriculum. There isn’t a school that is perfect, but my husband and I did both agree on a school that just seemed to … fit us better. GASP!! There isn’t anything that we can articulate as to why we chose the school we did. There was just a feeling we shared for each school that we toured, be it positive or negative. Ultimately, all of them would have provided our child with a quality education, so having the option to handpick the school that you like best is a luxury.
As parents we all want what is best for our children. I was raised in the public school system and never considered sending my children to private schools. The idea of a teacher talking about God to me was beyond foreign. As we toured each school I was so pleasantly surprised to see religious-based curriculum. The children were not only learning first grade curriculum, they were also preparing for their first communion. I felt so safe having my child surrounded by values we try to teach at home. I can’t believe that I ever questioned the idea of a parochial school. Seeing the environment brought me a great deal of peace.
Where Will We End Up?
Now we don’t know if we’ve been accepted to the schools to which we’ve applied, but hopefully soon we will have answers. This whole process has been more stressful than applying to college. We encountered envelope numbers and parish lines, solicited and unsolicited advice that ranged from helpful to downright offensive and even questions of where we are looking to send our four year old to high school (yes, we know)! It’s a crazy game, but having gone through it, it seems like what you’re picking is less of an education and more of a desired community for your child to come of age in. I can’t imagine placing my child in a school without doing all the necessary research. We truly discovered so much by just being around for a few hours (private tours and open houses) at each school.
And for the curious, we collectively have applications in at 4 schools, all of which seem like they would fulfill what we are looking for for our children. This is not the norm, but my husband is a bit of an over-worrier and he insisted that we have one school that’s a stretch, one that is our realistic top pick, a safety and a back-up! If it were up to me, I would have only applied to two schools. Knowing our luck, he’ll be accepted to all four! We can only hope!
For those who are nervous about their upcoming school search, worry not. You’ll find your place. There will be a calm or feeling of home that comes over you as you tour. Perhaps it won’t happen during an open house, but the private tours give you such an intimate look at the school. Take your time and find the one that you like the most.
How did you find your childern’s school(s)?