Monday, July 5, 2010

Happymiss school

When it came time to picking a kindergarten for my children, only a single school came to mind: my dream of all dreams was for them to attend the beloved private Waldorf school of my childhood.  Just a few miles away from our home resides the beautiful hilltop campus, full of all that is Waldorf - creativity, nature, nurturing, music, art, wholesomeness, and an abundance of warm fuzzy memories.  I want my sweet deserving children to foster similar memories and experiences, so I put on my rose-colored blinders and dream really big, figuring there must be a way to make the out-of-our-league price-tag for tuition more reasonable and affordable.  I am determined, darnit!

Of course I realize the school is no longer the easy going hippy-crunchy school from the 1970's that generously allowed children of teachers to attend for free (that's how I got to go).  Despite receiving free tuition, I fit in well with children from wealthy families, famous celebrity families, and ultra-hippy families.  That's just how it was then (money didn't matter) and I am lucky for such a gift.  

Now, the school is mostly run by boards and committees and accountants.  But with the basic values still intact, they'd be thrilled at the prospect of a family like ours - an alumni family of a well respected teacher that gets and loves Waldorf.  Right?  They'd bend over backwards to offer financial help so we can afford the huge tuition.  Right?  Good karma, right?  Please pretty please!?

So, ya, umm, that doesn't happen.

Not even close.

And, I sobb.  I boo-hoo tears of utter disappointment of squashed dreams and deep sadness.  I cry and cry and cry and cry and cry.  I am depressed for days.  Totally crushed.  I can barely talk about it without getting emotional.  I am a mess.

Eventually, I pick myself up, shake off the upsetting and humbling experience, and get a grip.  I visit and apply to another much smaller (and when I say "much smaller" I'm not kidding) and newer private Waldorf school more within my relative price range.  Honestly, I'm not all together thrilled (scared to death!) about scraping together every last dollar to pay the tuition and I also notice lots of red flags with the school, but I look the other way, convinced this familiar and comfortable Waldorf education is the best for our family. 

Out of the blue, I remember somewhere in the cobwebs of my almost-forty mind, that about a year or so ago, my mom sent me the link to a website of a public (and free!!) charter school near my house.  I pull up the website.  Humm.  I drive by the school a few times.  Humm.  I take the tour.  Humm.  It's alright for a public school, nice and small, but it's not pretty Waldorfy yummy fairy goodness.  I decide what the heck and apply anyway, knowing full well about the lottery system for the few coveted slots, but happy at least it's an option...what the heck...just in case.

The lottery happens in April, and...we don't get a slot.  Damn.

The summer rolls around and with some (well, many) reservations, we make plans to attend the second choice Waldorf school, reluctantly resolved to make the best of it.

Then I get the phone call that changes everything:  we got two lottery slots at the public charter school due to an additional kindergarten class that was added.  OMG!   No way!  Wow.  We are given one day to decide to accept or not.

This is a difficult decision, after all, we already made up our minds to attend the private school, and now there is another option thrown in the mix.  Hummmmmmmm...

In the end, we realize that these lottery slots will most likely never come up again - once we give up the slots there is no going back. However, we can basically attend the private school at any time.  We take a huge leap of faith and give the charter school a try.

I have never regretted our decision.  Ever.  Our school is wonderful.  It's like the best of both worlds - free public education with the freedom to teach a progressive whole-child approach integrating art, music, democracy, and a wonderful diversity of students.  I feel like we belong there with our peers, and now many good friends- like a sort of cosmic destiny.
Thank goodness my beloved childhood school of choice didn't offer us much in the way of tuition assistance, making my big dream impossible to afford.  Besides the huge amount of money we saved (I calculated we saved over $265,000 for kindergarten through 8th grade tuition!!!), I can see now that it wasn't best for our family in many many many ways.  Who would've ever guessed I'd go from a sobbing heartbroken mess about losing out on my dream school, to happily thinking that if I was offered two full scholarships from the Waldorf school today, I would turn them down in favor of our little beloved charter school.  This fall, we will be entering our third year at the school, and...I'm still smiling.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea that this was your journey to the charter. Perhaps you told me, but I've heard so many stories.

    Mine was very very VERY similar. It's the reason today I have a hard time attending the church associated with the private school Stink was turned down from.

    And yet, what a FREAKING blessing.

    I am glad you and your children arrivd at the best school ever. I am glad for my kids, too. And, of course, glad for me! (now more than ever. we walked there 4th of July night. 15 minutes jaunt! Thank you so much.