My Very Own Orchestra

The Parent Imperfect and Connie had extra time before their morning appointment, so they ended up in the Arboretum.  The PI was reminded that he spent 25 years sitting in offices at that time of day.

For Connie, the memory was different. Something about the moment brought forth a series of haikus that she had created in M’s class.

El agua del mar…Nos bañamos en ella…Salada que es.

The PI didn’t recall that Sr. Margaret Henry did much in the way of haiku in his third grade class at St. Francis de Sales. She was more interested in football and the game of punching the small ball toward the school that they called, “soccer.”

The deadline for choosing a school for next year is, indeed, March 26. Maybe it’s better to say that the Parent Imperfect and Liz must submit their preferences by March 26 and the great BPS sorting hat will figure it all out.

Ms. Connie was sick all night, but she awoke ready to go to school. She certainly remembered that today she was to accompany the PI on a visit to one of the AWC schools that they are considering for next year. Visiting a public school should be a fairly straightforward thing, but this one took:

  • three calls to the school to find out that it is the Parent Council arranges parent visits
  • two e-mails with the woman from the Parent Council to find out that all she could do was have a parent call to answer questions (MCAS is coming, after all)
  • a long e-mail to a friend who works at the school to complain about all of this
  • after her intervention, a phone call and two e-mails with the fourth grade teacher

Now…who is really going to go through all of that to sit and watch a room full of fourth graders go through their paces for 45 minutes? Only anal retentive parents (which the PI must be), that’s who. What chance would someone have who didn’t have a friend to call up and complain to?

The visit revealed a room full of children, half of whom Ms. Connie already knew, and a teacher who obviously has a strong commitment to working with these children. They discussed a reading assignment, at length, and then did an exercise called the “fish bowl” in which they had to identify the “threads” that tied together the three stories in the book. The students were a diverse group, but much less so that the fourth grade at the other two schools visited by the PI on this journey.

About a half hour after Connie and the PI arrived, a very friendly parent entered the classroom. “I come into the class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to help with Math. It’s great for me…” As they left, the woman asked if the PI had any questions, but C. needed to get to her school. The PI wished that he’d been e-mailing with that parent three weeks before.

Connie was excited to see children there that she knew, but now, of course, she wants to visit the other two schools. The PI sees this as perfectly reasonable, but doubts that it can happen in the four school days before the deadline.

Liz and the PI have studiously avoided this topic for the past two weeks. They know that the disagree about it…this being the first significant disagreement that they’ve ever had, of course.

The PI managed to speak to one other parent of an AWC invitee from Connie’s school. She answered, without hesitation that her child will stay where she is. “I don’t like the social stuff, but she seems to be dealing with it. Since I can’t stand AWC, anyway, it makes sense to stay.” Most of the other parents at the school are probably making the very same decision, without all of the gyrations being executed by the PI.

The letter to parents from the Hernandez had a fourth argument for why the children should stay at the school. It says:

Although we do not carry the label of Advanced Work, in fact, learning in both languages adds to the challenge. They also participate in many enrichment activities such as Expeditionary Learning and the Saturday Program at Milton Academy.

This touches the core of the dilemma, in some way. Learning in Spanish and English does increase the challenge, but not in the same way that AWC promises to increase it. Since the PI has spoken to Connie in Spanish since birth, the dual-language character of the Hernández matters to him greatly. But the fact is that Ms. Connie consistently wants more, despite the work in two languages. Something inside the PI wants to see what happens if Ms. Connie gets that “more”, whatever that it.

By 1PM, Connie’s teacher had called to say that she was sick for real, and should be picked up. After a long map, more haiku slipped out at dinner…this one cooked up on the green bench.

Birdies are singing…My very own orchestra…Arboretum song.

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