Thursday, September 10, 2015

School Choices

Jasmine in the front on xylophone at the football game.

Most of you who follow this blog know that Jasmine has been in a charter school since 5th grade. We put her in it at that time because we are zoned for the absolute worse middle school possible. The teachers can't teach many days because the kids are so bad. The parents are worse. Not a good place for Jasmine. So into the charter school she went.

What I like about it is that it is smaller, they have consistent rules and the teachers are high quality and high character.

What I don't like about it is that they have the attitude that they are the best. They constantly talk about being one the top schools etc. If you are good enough, other people will do the bragging for you. They also have the philosophy, "high expectations, high achievement." Basically they require way more than the public school. They do not take homework late. That is a problem because Jasmine will do the homework and have it in her folder and never think about turning it in. I've ask that she be given a personal reminder, but for them that's not encouraging her to be responsible. But knowing about the damage to the front lobe of her brain, I think it's reasonable.

And my philosophy is "do the best you can with what you've been given." Not all people are gifted the same. I think kids should be encouraged in their strong areas and helped with their weak. I have  A LOT of examples from my own life of when that did not happen.

When it came time for high school, Jasmine and I had different opinions. But I will say "yes" to their ideas when it doesn't go against our values or cause harm. So I put her in the lottery for the high school. Their are two branches of the middle school both feeding into one high school, so not everyone gets in. We had plan B in mind. It was my choice of school. In our town you can request to go out of zone. If there is room in the school, you'll be allowed to attend.

Jasmine got into the charter high school. She loved being with all her friends.

It required a lot of supplies in addition to the ones required by the public high schools. Among them was an iPad. You could lease one for $300+$75 insurance. I chose to buy a refurbished one at Walmart for $189 and added their warranty.

And off to school she went.

We had issues with school policy from day one. She was given a language arts pretest. She could not finish it, so it was sent home. She was unsure of how to do it, and she somewhat forgot about it until too late. But it was partially done. She got a zero and a note "we do not accept incomplete work." So not only can it not be late, but it can't be even a little incomplete.

She was also put in algebra 1.She never had pre algebra because she wasn't ready for it. Her first two tests were zeroes. They are on a block system so you do four complete year long classes one semester and four more second semester. So each class is 90 minutes. That means the first quarter ends four and a half weeks into school. Our public schools require algebra 1 and geometry. The charter school requires algebra 2. They told me to get a tutor. 

Well, if you don't have the background and your mind just doesn't do well at reasoning, that's really not going to help. She doesn't think that way. For example, to help with money skills, every weekend I tell the kids they can have $2, but I tell them how many coins they have to use to do it. Sometimes there is more than one right answer. She cannot figure it out. Ever. Not even with coaching. But I continue to have her try.

High expectations, high achievement became unrealistic expectations, high stress!

They have a cool black hat with blue plume, but she didn't have one yet.

She liked her technology class because it was podcast. And she loved band. During summer camp, she was one of many on mallets in the pit. But they all dropped, and she was the only one in pit at the football games.

Still, knowing she was going to flunk algebra 1 and probably language arts, we made the decision to try to my school of choice for her. There is another good school, but it's larger and can be snobbish. It's also overcrowded so require an administrator waiver. My choice of school is much smaller and under enrolled. And not as rich. But it is not perfect. There have been incidents there. But they were dealt with. We got in.

Rick told the band director at Friday night's game that we were trying to get her in a public high school, and he was very unhappy to be losing his only mallet and pit person.

So yesterday we went to the new high school to enroll her and talk to guidance. Their lowest math class is also algebra 1. I asked repeatedly what they do for students who are just not able to do algebra at all. There was no answer. But she'll be in an intensive class. It's a double class. They are supposed to teach the first session, and then they work on the assignment the second session. They do not have geography and world culture which is the social studies class she was in. There is no history in ninth grade. Also no podcast.

She has:
fitness lifestyle design (I hope that's her personal fitness credit)
Intro to info technology
English 1
Physical Science
Alg 1
Alg 1
Percussion (band is broken into groups)

There is full band practice 6-8 p.m. Tues and Thurs. 

She will only be doing one dance class at the dance studio again this year, but instead of hip hop like the past two years, it will be musical theater on Tues at 4:15. So Tuesdays will be crazy. We will probably go from school to dance to band! On Monday nights she'll have County Christian Youth Choir again starting this coming Monday. They sing from 6-7 p.m., then have an hour Bible study and supper from 7-8 p.m..

Oh, and she got an iPad out of this deal :)

Yesterday we went and got her a hoodie at Walmart. Someone else gave her some spirit shirts. She can wear polo shirts in red, black and white or spirit shirts.

 Today she started at her new school. 
Ready to go

She had a good first day. We went back for band practice this evening, and there was a football game on the field where we thought she would practice. It turns out they were practicing on the soccer field. We were late, and didn't have the shorts and T shirt everyone else was wearing. We'll get it all figured out by Tuesday.

So I hope this change will help her be successful. Ya know, it's never easy figuring out what is best for each kid all of the time. But I think we've got this one right.


Emily said...

There's no point in trying to learn if you're under that much stress. Good for you for making this change. I think it will be great for her! Does she have an IEP in place?

Kathy C. said...

She has an IEP but people don't really pay attention to it. It does give her 100% extra time on tests and such.