About us We are traditional in structure, less so in outlook. We are a native San Francisco mom, a from-all-over-the-place dad, a four-year-old daughter, and a two-year-old son. We live, happily wedged into a flat with a long-suffering cat named Puget, in the NorthWestern part of the city, an area we broadly define as within the lines drawn by Noriega and Webster.
The parental units, Seattle and Portland, both work most of the time in Silicon Valley. We love the city, and resist repeating Seattle’s family history of exiting San Francisco in childhood for school. But we also have lots of relatives in the ‘burbs, and are bummed by how commuting drains our time and energy. We like to have lots of options, and rarely think there is one right way. We don’t need to be among a group that always agrees, as long as we’re in surroundings where people are interested in finding solutions.
Tacoma, our daughter, has bright, wide eyes that can turn from warm to shy as quickly as the fog moves in. Her default is friendly, empathetic, caring, and gentle. She loves to read books, draw pictures, play with small groups of friends, sing and dance, or sit quietly creating a project that brings her latest ideas to life. When her little brother Williamette nabs the plant sprayer and pursues Puget down the hall, Tacoma is first on hand with a towel and comfort. But when dropped into new situations, or when another child gets aggressive with her, she is sometimes at a loss. If she feels threatened, she tends to retreat into the background.
About you For public, private, or parochial alike, Portland sums up his wish list as “a school where Tacoma is safe, where she is challenged, where she is loved, and where she is encouraged to expand her mind.” You can wear any stripe of “P” you like, but please be:
- Academically solid, but not a slave to the numbers. We think that innovative approaches to learning don’t always equal a dazzling API.
- Flexible in your learning approach. Some subjects might be taught by traditional teacher-directed learning. Others thrive with a project-based approach. Please embrace whatever works best for the task at hand.
- A campus that is not only safe, but where kids feel safe and heard. (Given Tacoma’s hesitations in new or stressful situations, that last one is important.)
- A school that is warm, loving and encouraging. I originally had questions about the “love” part, but after the comments to my post from last week, I left it in.
- Logistically sane. Given that we commute southbound many days, we can’t drive all over town for school first. For us, this knocks off the schools to the far northwest and northeast, and may remove more as we start touring and test-driving the school commute.
- Within our budget. We can afford to donate to a public school’s PTA annual drives and wish list, and can handle most parochial tuitions. We will not be able to swing the $20K-plus price tag for independent privates without financial aid.
- A school where teachers are supported by the district, administration, and/or parents. I come from a family of public school teachers. I’ve heard the stories. ‘Nuff said.
- A school with a community of active, involved parents. We don’t always have to agree, but if we don’t want to pitch in, why are we there?
- A foreign language component. This could be immersion, but doesn’t have to be. FLES or after-school classes are fine as well.
- Green space, or at least plans for some. I know that in the city, we won’t get the rolling sports fields of the suburbs. But how about a garden? A tree? Something? Anything? (Yes, we’ll help with the digging and planting!)
- Diversity before hegemony. We’d rather not be at a school where a single group dominates, regardless of what that group may be.
- A touch of Waldorf gnome. We are not a Waldorf family. But there are certain Waldorf traditions, such as an emphasis on tactile learning over technology and giving kids quiet, distraction-free spaces to think, that feel right to us, especially for the early elementary years.
- Substantial art, music, and science programs, either in school or after school.
- Some of the engaging, innovative features of a San Francisco school, if we wind up deciding to ditch the commute and move south. How about some immersion? Cool art options? Project-based learning?
So RFS, wherever you are, give a shout. Send a text. Maybe we could meet for coffee? Or just get down to business and enroll at first sight? Sigh…somehow I didn’t think it would be that easy.
- SFF (aka Seattle's crew)
P.S. Thanks to my fellow 2011 K bloggers and the SF K Files community for helping us organize our thoughts on what we’re looking for. In case you are wondering about certain details, such as our assignment boundary school or where we work, we’re withholding those for now while we figure out the private school application process.