As any of you who read the comments thread on my School Daze post know, in the end we did indeed decide that it would be best if Amy changed schools. Brandy spent a few hours online researching the West Melbourne School for Science and comparing it to where we were, Riviera Elementary School. No offense to Riviera intended at all, but once we did the research, there was no comparison. Amy started on Tuesday, and has now completed her first week. (Well, not full week, but first calendar week.) The picture shows her proudly showing off her school uniform the night before her first day. She LOVES the uniform and is very proud to be at West Melbourne. When she siad good bye to the kids at Riviera there were impressed sounding murmers through the room "Amy is going to West Melbourne!!!". Apperantly West Melbourne has a reputation, and it is a good one.
As it turns out, is it not JUST a lottery to get into WWSS, it is a lottery amoung those applicants that qualify. So right there, you are already getting a situation where the average performance is higher (and according to the test scores and such we could find on line, MUCH higher...), so teachers and staff can concentrate on stimulating and enhancing the kids who "get it" rather than on discipline and catch up for the kids who do not. This isn't to say that those kids don't need that and should get that, but the kids in the other half need to be pushed forward rather than have to wait for the others...
Anyway... not only is there a bit more concentration on science... tehy have science labs and a biodome and more extensive science fairsa and compete in science competitions with other schools... but everything else is an upgrade too. The music program has an orchestra program that will allow Amy to play the instruments she already plays and takes lessons in, rather than forcing her to play "this grade's instrument". There is a chorus that takes itself seriously. Then there are clubs and such for a variety of interests that meet before and after school. The the after care program that goes until 6 PM for when Brandy and I are both working and can't get her earlier... isn't just an after care where they give them stuff to play with and keep them safe, but is actually an "educare" where they have structured activities that actually are still useful. (And of course they can work on homework.)
At Riviera we were a litte worried. She wasn't liking the strict old fashioned behavioural model her teacher was enforcing. I figured she would get used to it, and a little extra discipline was not bad. But perhaps there was a bit TOO much emphasis on that at the expense of other things. She was making friends, but hadn't really yet latched on to any group. And she said actually told us she was frustrated by one person at her table and how they, and I quote, "didn't care much for their education".
The contrast is evident. Now Amy has been coming home absolutely thrilled. She is very excited about school. She is being challenged by the homework, and LIKES IT. She likes her teachers. And she is horribly proud of her uniform. She says the uniforms "make everyone the same on the outside" and she likes that too. She is excited about several of the clubs and such. She joined the orchestra and chorus immediately, and on the first day the orchestra leader said she didn't have to come to the extra practices they are having this month to get everybody up to speed to start, because she was already up to speed... but if she could come anyway to tutor and help out the two boys who are also playing the bass, that would be wonderful. So she is tutoring two boys on the bass, and again, she is thrilled.
We saw in the paper that some of this reshuffling is due to the fact that many of the county schools ended up with fewer children than they had expected. Many were dozens of kids short. Just fewer new people coming to the county than they thought. West Melbourne was THREE children short. Amy was one of those children they brought in because of that shortfall.
I can't say at this point just how glad I am that they were three kids short, and our lottery number was such that we got in, and that we made the decision to switch. It has only been a week, but so far everything is looking really good, and there just seems to be so much more opportunity for growth here. This looks like it will be really good for Amy.
We have a parents open house on Monday evening. Brandy has gotten to go there and meet the teachers and such already. I haven't yet because of work. I am very much looking forward to it...
She wants to change after school but not into play clothes. she wants to change into fresh uniforms. Silly kid.
She IS happy - there isn''t even a battle to do homework. She goes off, does it then reappears ready to play.
And after she changes into the fresh uniform, THEN she changes into something else.
And then she changes into something else, And THEN she changes into something else...then does her nails, then changes,. then does her hair, then takes off the polish an puts more on...
Then back into a fresh uniform.
And then we run out of uniforms on the first day. Sad really.