We got a chance to tour Lily's new school on Thursday, showing her where she'll attend Kindergarten in the fall. We had applied to three different charter schools but this was the one we felt best about with a couple friends kids already there and everything about the place sounding really good. And because I believe in the universe, that was the only school that she got pulled in the lottery with a good enough number to get in. After our tour, I feel like I owe the universe a big wet kiss on the mouth.
This place is amazing. We walked into the first kindergarten class to see the teacher, a smaller guy with glasses and bare feet, sprawled out on a pile of pillows with kids stacked all around him. They were reading a book together and everyone looked so relaxed and at ease. I know that there's all this panic in America about students and teachers "touching" but I don't believe that the vast majority of teachers are pedophiles. I have no problem with my kids coming into physical contact with the adults and other kids around them and took great comfort from seeing one of the kids leaning back in the teachers lap, following the story. Lily, after sticking close to us for a few moments, started wandering around and settled into the dress up clothes, stripping dresses on and off in rapid succession. A couple of boys started playing roughly over near the corn-snake terrarium and the teacher, who had come over to talk to our group of parents, excused himself. "What's going on, guys?" he gently asked, resolving their little outburst quickly and respectfully.
The other Kindergarten class (there are only two) was set up differently, reflecting that teachers form which was a bit more organized. Lily took Mark by the hand and the two of them walked through the room, Lily pointing out the letters of the alphabet she already knew to her dad. I talked with the teacher and when Mark had to step outside to take a call Lily set herself up at the coloring table, shyly stealing glances at the other children. The teacher even got her to speak, something Lily is always hesitant to do with strangers.
We then checked out the school garden, a lovely little plot of land with a scattering of second graders throughout, all deeply engrossed in drawing the plants and flowers. We learned that the fifth graders work with the kindergartners, saw the combined first and second grade class, saw another first grade class with my friend Sybil standing in it, helping the kids decorate eggs. No class is bigger than 25 children, all the way through the grades (most California schools jump to 36 at grade 4). The kids eat lunch when they're ready, not at a set time.
The philosophy, the people, the school grounds... all of it made Mark and I feel like this was it. This is where our children will go to school. And we loved it. And Lily is so excited about going to school now. Now, if I can only get over the fact that she's old enough to go to school...