Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Jefferson Parish Public Schools but all thoughts are my own.
We Chose Jefferson Parish Public Schools, and Our JC Ellis Eagle Is Soaring
Growing up in New Orleans, it was understood that private school, especially catholic school, was a way of life for much of the city. Sure, there were a handful of standout public schools, but the expected answer to that famous question, “where’d you go to school” is usually the name of a private one. I got to experience both private and public school settings in the city, in that order. My husband, a teacher, is from Tennessee and comes from a family of educators. All he ever knew until his senior year of high school was public education. Moving here was quite the educational experience on education, if you will.
What I loved most about my years in public school was that I got to meet and befriend people from all over the city, from all different backgrounds. I have maintained a good bit of these friendships and I continue to learn and grow as a result of their presence in my life. I also received one of the absolute best high school educations in the country, right here in my hometown. My teachers were dedicated and innovative, instilling a love of learning that I carry with me to this day. They made me believe in the public school system and all it had to offer.
We purchased a house in Jefferson Parish pre-kids, with decent public schools nearby on our list of things we liked about the house. When our son was three, he tested into one of the Jefferson Parish Advanced Studies Academies and we felt like we won the lottery. When his younger sisters, who are identical twins, tested but had mixed results, we were met with a decision we didn’t imagine we would have to make. One got in and the other was wait listed, but not at a number realistic enough for her to be placed with her sister and brother. So for her Pre-K4 year of school, she headed off to a Catholic school near my office while her brother and sister headed to their Advanced Studies Academy. It was a hard year that was full of growth for all of us. We loved her school but deep down, we really believed in public education, and we started to explore our options.
We attempted to tour our neighborhood school, juggling what worked with the school and what worked for our work schedules made it impossible. I had heard wonderful things about the immersion programs that were happening in a few of the JPPSS schools and started to investigate more. I checked the neighborhood mom groups, looked upon school performance scores, and dug deep into research about the benefits of immersion education. In the meantime, our shy girl tested again for the Advanced Studies Academies and once again didn’t quite get there. By the time we had gotten the results, we had settled on enrolling her in the immersion magnet program at JC Ellis. We loved the idea of her learning another language in a more inventive way than the standard couple of years we had in high school (and promptly forgot.) Spots were first come, first served, so I made sure I was there to sign her up the first morning of the application window.
She was offered a spot in the Spanish Immersion program for the fall. We were thrilled for a half dozen reasons. All three kids would be on the same school calendar, which meant fewer burned vacation days and schedule juggling for me. Socially, they would all be surrounded by a wide range of people, of different races, religions, and backgrounds. Financially, it meant that within a couple of years we would be able to add to their education by adding experiences-national parks, monuments, museums, and opportunities to see and do things outside of their bubble. Academically, they were all going to be in high-performing schools, which felt like winning the lottery for a second time. As a big bonus, she would be able to stay there from Kindergarten through eighth grade.
A semester in to our time at Ellis, we are extremely pleased with how it’s going. The teachers are supportive and loving. The before and after care staff are fun-loving and kind, but firm. The administrators are present, accessible, and friendly. Parent involvement is good. Academically, she is doing the same math as her twin sister at the Advanced Studies Academy, and is not far behind her in ELA. On top of that, she’s learning another language like a champ. Meanwhile, she’s leaving me struggling with Google Translate as I try to follow along with her school work. She’s made friends and takes extracurricular art classes after school. It’s everything we hoped it would be. If we had to do it all over again, we would.
This year, Ellis scored a B and gained over 7 points on the Louisiana Department of Education scale, putting it just a couple of points away from an A rating. Keep in mind that at any school, those few points could just be the result of a couple of kids having a bad day. But it’s not just about letter grades, it’s also about the school environment and if it can meet your child’s needs. Because it’s a neighborhood school with an added immersion program, it offers traditional K-8 classes for neighborhood students. Special education and gifted & talented programs are in place. Many teachers outside of the immersion program are bilingual and are happy to assist children and parents with language barriers if the need arises. It’s truly a place where children can grow and thrive.
Want to hear more about Jefferson Parish Public Schools?
- If you don’t want to wait until early summer to register for school, good news! This year, they are conducting early bird registration for the K-8 neighborhood schools February 3-7, 2020. Find out more here.
- Open Houses (also called Look & Learns) were this past fall for prospective parents and students. For more information or a school tour, check out this website and contact the school.
Did you know?
- Jefferson Parish Schools created nine new K-8 schools this past school year to increase student retention, increase student outcomes, and limit student transitions.
- Last year, 6-8th grade students in JP’s K-8 schools outperformed 6-8th grade students in traditional JP middle schools.
- Many K-8 schools also have preschool programs, giving your child another opportunity to grow in the same school environment.