Another foggy night (heat wave, where hast thou gone?), another kindergarten discussion. This time, Portland and I were hashing out our ideas for what kind of school we’d like to find for Tacoma. That list is still very much a work in progress, so I’ll spare you all from wading through its free-form state at this point. But one of Portland’s suggestions made me do a double-take – “A school where she is loved.”
When I think about education, love rarely enters the picture past pre-school. I went to kindergarten here in San Francisco, and then large public schools in the Bay Area suburbs. In all of these settings, I felt safe, cared for, and encouraged by teachers and staff. I didn’t go lacking at all. But I wouldn’t use the “L” word to sum up how I felt at school.
Portland’s school experience was literally all over the map. He spent a few of his K-12 years out of the country, and also attended public and private schools in the Midwest and East Coast. And at a couple of them – most notably a smaller private middle school in the Midwest and a large public high school on the East Coast – he felt loved. When I asked him what that meant, he described it as feeling as though certain teachers and administrators cared for him like a parent. They were incredibly supportive, engaged, and encouraging, and gave their students lots of individual attention.
So I’m throwing out this question to those in the know about public, private, parochial schools alike. Given budget cuts, admissions headaches, and pressure on schools to perform, is love a reasonable addition to one’s list of school criteria? Or is it too much of a rarity, or something from another time?