It's a Friday night. The kids are in bed. What do San Francisco parents do?
Talk schools, of course.
Last night, Ryan and I attempted to finalize our list of seven. Our conversation started with Ryan sharing his impressions of Flynn, which he toured on Thursday.
Did he like it? Yes, very much.
On our list, Flynn is the school with the lowest test scores (which I realize aren't that important). It's up and coming. It's a school that hasn't peaked but it's definitely moving upward. When I toured, my instincts said, "This is a great school." But a few weeks later, after over-thinking my choices, I started to feel uneasy. So I asked Ryan to go on a tour, and it wasn't until Friday night that we were actually able to talk about it.
Our conversation went something like this:
"So what did you think of Flynn?"
"I liked it."
"I liked the parents. Seemed like a good school."
"Should we include it on our list?"
"It's a good school."
Sometimes it can be difficult to draw detailed information from Ryan, so I assigned him a task: Come up with 10 reasons why you liked Flynn.
He easily rattled these off, and in fact he gave me 11.
1) Organized, involved parents. "Did you see that play structure they put up in one day? Amazing! I wish the city of San Francisco could do that at our [neighborhood] park."
2) Beautiful old building. "I liked all the architectural details. The inside was colorful and the classrooms were cozy. It reminded me of my elementary school."
3) Spanish Immersion program.
4) Small classes. "I like that they keep the class sizes smaller in the upper grades."
5) Location. "I like how it backs up to Precita Park. Have you walked the streets around the park? There are some beautiful old houses. Hey, maybe we could move over there." (Ryan thought the tour was at 8 a.m. rather than 9 a.m. so he spent a lot of time walking around the area.)
6) Well-behaved and focused kids. "The kids in the kindergarten classes were working in small groups on projects. And it seemed like they were working hard and they were focused on the task at hand. And this was in both the general education and Spanish strand."
7) Positive energy. "I like the idea of joining a school that's building something new, and this school has some serious momentum going. I sensed a positive attitude toward change."
8) Clear vision and goal. "The school has a strong goal with the International Baccalaureate program."
9) Abundance of enrichment programs. "Alice would love the classes with the SF Ballet."
10) United students and parents. "There were parents from both strands leading the tour. It seemed like they were very conscious of any split between the Spanish strand and general education, and they were trying to do everything possible to address it."
11) Friendly tour guides. "I liked the tour guides. I could seem myself being their friends. We're going to spending a lot of time at Alice's school, and we want to be in a place where we feel like we can connect with the other parents."
And then we went on to discuss: Should Leonard Flynn (SI) come before or after Alvardo (SI)? What would we all be doing on Friday night if we didn't have to be making these difficult decisions about schools?