Friday, July 23, 2010

Why do my kids go to a Charter School?

With the school year approaching I have been reflecting on why I am choosing to send my children to a Charter school when a brand new school will be opening up that they can walk or ride their bike to.  My oldest child has been going to the same charter school for 4 years. Here is why I like our charter school:

  • I really love the consistency and continuity of the curriculum.  Each teacher at the school teaches the same math, spelling, and reading program.  When my kids go to another teacher for the next grade all the kids are on the same level and they are not trying to relearn because the new teacher has a different approach.  This consistency is so comforting.  Parents are also encouraged to take a class so we can better help our children at home with homework.  This class has helped me so much.
  • I love the small feeling of the charter school.  We feel like part of the Thomas Edison Charter School family
  • My kids have had an amazing academic experience every year and I see them progressing and challenged.  I've never heard them complain that they are bored.  
  • The positive environment the teachers and aides teach with (They are all trained by the Glenn Latham's positive approach to learning)
  • The arts play a big role in the education.  Every grade attends PE taught by a PE teacher, music by a Music specialist, Art by an artist (a kiln has been installed in the new addition of the school so the students can preserve their artwork), Computer, Science, and Library are all taught by specialists.  They also have an orchestra, band, and choir.  
  • I love love the dress code.  I never have to worry about what my kids where to school because I know and they know the standards, (solid colored shirt, solid colored pants or long shorts, no logos)  We don't have to worry getting the name brand jeans or the "in" t-shirts.  We never have battles about clothes for school and I really appreciate that
  • Parent Involvement is an essential part of the school.  All parents are required to volunteer in some way at the school.  It could be as simple as helping correct papers, reading with children, or serving on the parent board.  The more parents that are involved is always a better situation for the students and teachers.  With parents involved and helping the school can be a great place to be and the teachers can focus on the students more.  
  • I feel welcome and wanted at the school.  When my oldest was ready to go to Kindergarten.  I wanted to make an educated decision about where to send him to Elementary school.  So I went to both school, the charter school and the local school.  I went to our local school first because I actually was working as a music therapy supervisor in the special education classroom.  I asked the secretary if I could see a Kindergarten class.  She looked at me like I was crazy.  She told me I would need to schedule an appointment to come so the teacher would be prepared that I was coming.  But I was introduced to the principal who took me to the library and answered some questions I had.  He then let me go visit one of the kindergarten classes.  They were watching an educational cartoon.  I'm sure it was just an off day but I wasn't impressed with the environment.  I then went to Thomas Edison Charter School and asked the same thing and they took me to a kindergarten class and I stayed for a half hour and just watched the teaching.  I was so impressed.  The kids were at their desks doing Phonographs and then they did some math.  They had two aides that went around to the children that needed assistance while the teacher was teaching.  The teacher was very positive encouraged participation.  The kids were not bored they were sitting tall in their chairs and were actively listening.  I knew this is where my son would learn and get the most from his education.  
  • I love our principal, Eldon Budge.  He knows me and my children by name and always says hi and is open to feedback and questions.
  • It's a public School and is FREE-  Most people I have talked to about charter schools don't know that it is a public school and is free to everyone that goes.  
  • Starting this year the school grades offered are K-8th grade.  If my children choose, which I will encourage they can stay at TECS until they go to high school.  The Jr High and Middle School drama and teasing is much lessened.  I helped with the middle school end of year party and was very impressed with how well behaved these kids were.  They dress modestly and in turn their behavior is appropriate.

My advise if you are even curious about a charter school is go visit and ask questions.  If you don't set foot in the school and the classroom it's hard to know if it's right for you and your children.  My oldest will start fourth grade this year and I'm excited to begin another school year of learning.  It's worth the driving back and forth to drop and pick them up from school, and even worth not having all their neighborhood friends in the same school.
Here is the website to our school if you want to check it out.  Thomas Edison Charter School