I grew up in a suburb of Denver, Colorado where EVERYONE went to public school. My parents were able to find a nice home in a nice neighborhood and with it came a nice (free) school system. There was never a lot of thought or emphasis placed on looking for an acceptable school. Looking back, I can recall knowing (maybe) two people who attended private school. So I was shocked, to say the least, when I moved here and found that almost everyone in New Orleans goes to private or parochial school.
Time to Start Thinking…
Currently, I have AJ enrolled in PK-4 at a playschool, making him one of the youngest in his class. I was able to avoid all of these considerations for a few years, but now that it’s time to find a primary school, I’m under a great deal of pressure to make a lot of really important decisions that will ultimately change his future. AJ was blessed to be born on September 15th. Sometimes I think that the date of the 15th (exact middle of the cut-off month) was God’s way of teasing me just a little. Last year, he made the wait list for Metairie Academy PK-4. Although we were thrilled that he made it that far, in the back of my mind was the fear that, because the public school system cut-off is September 30, eventually, I may well be dropping my 17 year old (first born) son off to college (hopefully). YIKES! However, if I place him in the private or parochial school system, their cut-off date (for the most part) is September 1, which would make him close to the oldest in his class. Him being the oldest in the class appeals to me on some level, but on the other hand, it would force him to repeat PK-4, which makes me fear that he’ll become bored. It’s confusing, I know!
All of these questions (and all of this stress) is not anything that I would have ever considered if I’d stayed in Denver. One of the JOYS of living in New Orleans, however, is that careful consideration must be taken when placing your child in school. Open house season is starting and I will be one of the wide-eyed parents hitting up EVERY SINGLE school that I can. I was not given the benefit of being born and raised here. I am not aware of the reputations or stereotypes that precede each school. I am left with only my own two eyes and a gut feeling.
I find it difficult to ask locals their opinion of a specific school. Mostly, they seem to have STRONG feelings about schools; your best friend and your neighbor will have conflicting ideas about the same school. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. Only a lot of work to find the right placement for your child and his/her needs. Looking forward … seemingly, where you go to high school is of more significance here than where you go to college. I’ve yet to figure that one out, but I’m already trying to catch the significance of each high school just to ensure that I send my children to the RIGHT one!
These concerns may seem silly to locals who were raised in these schools. But remember, if you were raised here, in these schools, you experienced their teaching methods. With that comes a great deal of comfort. Comfort in knowing EXACTLY what your children will experience. I know nothing of private schools. I was raised to believe that teachers were not allowed to discuss religion and all subjects related to religion were strictly prohibited in school. Parochial schooling will certainly take some getting used to for me.
I have a lot to learn in the coming months. There are many decisions to be made. Parochial versus Public, Place Forward versus Hold Back, All Boys versus Co-Ed, “No Cut” versus “Firm Cut” … the list goes on and on. If I do place him in an all boy school, how will he meet girls? Will there be school dances? Once I pick, does it stay that way throughout high school? I’m hoping that one school sings to me and makes this decision easy. And I hope that THE school is not going to break the bank! I am both resentful and grateful to the great city of New Orleans that I have been given the
obligation opportunity to make all of these choices. I just hope that I make the right ones.
How did you choose your child’s school? If you were not raised in New Orleans, were there any resources you found to be helpful? If you are from New Orleans, can you offer any advice?