A little while ago I wrote about a new charter school coming to San Antonio next year. I was feeling a little guilty about trying to put my kids into a pretentious charter school but quickly got over it and submitted applications for the 7 year old and 5 year old (who will be in 3rd and 1st grade in the fall). The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a school that would be a good fit for us. They use a similar curriculum to what we use at home, literature based and Singapore math, and I like that they often mention cultivating a sense of wonder. I’m cynical by nature and don’t think it’s perfect, but it sounds pretty darn good for a public school. I didn’t want to get my hopes up though, what with the lottery to get in and all that.
And then last week I had a chance to meet the guy that will be the headmaster of the new school, Peter Crawford. Great Hearts had organized a small breakfast meeting where a few of us that had demonstrated interest in the school could meet Peter (to my knowledge, they had scheduled several of these small meetings with a bunch of different people). We were able to ask questions about the school, from the more vague philosophical underpinnings of the school’s culture to the nuts-and-bolts of how the school might help ease the transition for homeschooled students.
Well, it only made further convinced me that Great Hearts would be a good fit for my kids. I am sure the school will have some hiccups and things that wouldn’t work perfectly for us as a family, but I’m a big believer in a leader setting a tone for the entire organization. I think that it can’t help but trickle down to the rest of the school if the headmaster is excited about learning and passionate about creating a place where kids will love to learn.
Which is what I got from Peter Crawford. He clearly wants kids to love learning, not just to learn some facts while they’re in school. He and I had such a long discussion about unstructured play and the way that our respective children incorporate the stories and skills they learn in school into their free play that I was late to a doctor’s appointment. I could have continued to talk to him all day about imagination, learning, kids, and educational philosophies and I’m pretty sure that he could talk about all of that all day too (though not necessarily with me, ha). For me, that’s an essential quality in the person overseeing my kids’ education.
If the boys aren’t at home with me then I want them to be in a place where people care as much about the desire to learn as they do about test scores. Some people are lucky enough to find that in their local public school. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find what we needed at our local school (though I’m sure that the school around the corner from our house is perfect for some families, it just wasn’t for us) but Great Hearts Monte Vista seems like it might fit the bill.
Of course whether or not Great Hearts will prove to be that place remains to be seen, but I do feel like having someone that clearly cares about that is a good start. I’m intrigued to hear from actual families that attend next year how the philosophy of the school and it’s staff translates into the day-to-day experience of students. And who knows? Maybe we’ll be one of those families.
I don’t have high hopes for getting in. There will definitely be a lottery necessary for both grades that we need and I have terrible luck when it comes to that sort of thing. Plus, we need BOTH boys to get in. Since it’s the first year of the school, there isn’t really a sibling preference to work in our favor. And I’m not sure, but I doubt that we would enroll just one boy.
So now we just wait for the end of January to find out if the boys get to grab a slot in next year’s opening classes. If not, homeschooling continues to be working well for us as a family. I’m totally happy keeping all the boys here with me. But I may be crossing my fingers, just a little, about that lottery…