Sunday, October 5, 2008

Meet the new SF K Files team

Introducing Elizabeth, Wendy, and Thanh Phan—the new SF K Files team. These San Francisco moms are all on the hunt for kindergartens for the 2009-10 school year and they're excited to chronicle their family's search on The SF K Files. They will post reviews of schools to spur discussion and share their thoughts and feelings throughout the process. I will add their reviews to the right-hand column and indicate who authored the reviews. Please note that the new team members are using pseudonyms. I think it will be fun to follow their stories. Many of us know that things don't always turn out as planned.

Here's some background on each reviewer. And you can look forward to Wendy's first write-up on San Francisco Day School, which I will post tomorrow.



My name is Elizabeth, and I'm married to Ming. We work full-time in fields that don't translate well in a "what does your mom/dad do for a living" elementary classroom presentation. Our daughter Sage is 4 years old; our son Henry just turned 3. Both of our children go to daycare. I'm an SF native who attended private and public schools in the city, but a very, very long time ago.

We're looking at both public and private schools. Our criteria are simple, really:
* Strong principal leadership and teachers. I want to develop a partnership with the educators of my children because, as the cliché goes, "It takes a village to raise a child."
* A school that is a good fit for both my daughter and son. I have to confess that we're focusing a lot of attention on Sage's needs, but we need to carefully consider what is important for Henry, too.
* Before- and after-school programs. Because of our schedules, and because we'll need to do a double drop-off/pick-up for a year, maybe more, I'd love to find a school with a before school program that starts at 7 and an after-care program that ends at 6; this gives Ming and me the most flexibility.
* Located near a public transit option that takes us downtown in less than an hour, and vice versa.

I'm looking forward to sharing my impressions and engaging in meaningful dialog with you all.

My 4-year-old girl, Bea, will be entering kindergarten in the fall of 2009. My husband and I both have high-pressure careers. We live in a central location in the city, but closer to the east side than the west. Both of us are products of public schools and politically committed to them. We hope we'll find a public school that we like, and it is certainly our preference to have our daughter in public. However, realizing that we may not be able to get a space in a public school that is acceptable to us, we are reluctantly exploring private schools as well.

I'm feeling anxious about the school search. I've heard a lot of war stories from last year. I'm approaching it as a big research project, and I'm gathering as much information as possible about each school. Mitch seems to be taking a complimentary approach, organizing and analyzing all of the information we gather with spreadsheets. We are trying to look at up-and-coming public schools, but we're finding that it is hard to sniff them out. Our primary goal is to find a school that our daughter will love, and that will teach our daughter to love learning. I'm less concerned about the academic rigor in the curriculum than I am about whether it will inspire her imagination and encourage her curiosity. I also want her to be in an environment that will show her that not all kids have the same advantages and privileges that she has. We have a list of about ten other criteria, but they are secondary to these considerations.

Thanh Phan
I live in east San Francisco with my husband and our son who just turned 4. Our son currently goes to preschool. My husband and I have high-powered careers. We considered moving out of the city when I first got pregnant and even looked for a house outside of San Francisco. We ultimately chose to stay because we could not yet convince ourselves that we were ready for the suburbs. I am hopeful that our sentiment won't change. But I know better than to "never say never" because as soon as I say it, I will be living in Tracy, driving a minivan and commuting into San Francisco (not that there is anything at all wrong with living in Tracy and commuting in via minivan...just not for me).

I looked at a couple schools last year to get the lay of the land. I credit Parents for Public Schools (PPS) and The SF K Files, which I stumbled upon over the summer, in broadening my horizon of the education opportunities in SF. I can safely say that last year I was only thinking about private schools. After attending a couple of PPS meetings, I was gratified to learn that there are more options for us. We will be looking at a range of schools, from private to public. Neither my husband nor I, frankly, feel strongly politically about either route. We're just interested in finding the best environment for our son and our family. I went to both Catholic and private schools growing up (all on scholarships) and my husband went to public down on the Peninsula. We both had great experiences.

As I begin this process, I'm looking for the following in schools: strong emphasis on core curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic, good sports options, after-school program that offers some type of enrichment learning, and strong parental community. We value a great range of other things--such as diversity, additional languages, and music--but specifically in these areas, if we don't find all in the the one, right, magical, school, I would look to augment outside of school via other options. I'll be interested in how the wish list changes over the course of touring and applying.


  1. Welcome! We look forward to hearing about your searches.

  2. Yahoo! This will be fun!!!!

  3. yes welcome and thanks in advance for your findings.

  4. Ooh - "high-powered careers". Are you also high net-worth individuals? Do you think outside the box?

  5. Will any of you be touring the all-girls schools--Hamlin, Burke's, and Convent?

  6. Thanks for passing the torch, Kate. It will be interesting to see this year's crop of reviews.

  7. Greg, I had to laugh at your comment! High-powered career, is not a term I would use. Kate is doing a wonderful thing in editing to make sure that we don't accidentally divulge too much about ourselves.

    I don't know about thinking out of the box - aren't we supposed now be building new paradigms?

  8. To: October 8, 2008 8:32 AM

    I'll have to leave that to Elizabeth and Wendy, as we have a son. I don't know if they're checking comments regularly; I haven't done so myself that often. And while your question doesn't apply to me, it does remind me that I should try to do so as I can.

  9. so are the school reviews on the right side done by Kate or by the new team? i'm confused.

  10. There have been no recent reviews posted. Is this because the three of you have not had time to tour any schools or because you did not like any of the schools you saw and chose not to post negative reviews?

  11. ^^Thanks!!