Monday, October 3, 2011

Let the Tours Begin

School tours begin this week and I'm excited to begin the search and share what I find.

From my original list I've scheduled one to two tours a week in October. From suggestions on comments on my first post I intend to add some additional schools in November. I don't think I will attend the November SFUSD fair as last year I was completely overwhelmed by it, however I will be calling PPS to get parent contacts for each Public Elementary to chat with.

I'm adding the tour schedules of my October list for anyone else who may be interested. Something I would really like to see soon is the SFUSD assignment information for the 2011 year, the initial March placement information only really shows how the top 14 were oversubscribed. I would like to see raw numbers rather than percentages for the other schools. Does anyone know when this information will be made public?

Thanks for your feedback.

Bessie Carmichael
Tuesdays at 9am
Call (415) 355-6916 to schedule

Daniel Webster
Fridays at 8:40am beginning on Oct 7th.
Call (415) 695-5787 to schedule

Harvey Milk
Tuesday & Wednesdays beginning Oct 11th. 10-11am Drop in only. Room #103

Beginning Oct 14 every Friday at 8:30 until Enrollment, Drop In

Tenderloin Community
Every Thursday 9-11 Drop in (beginning this week)

Mission Dolores Academy
Here are some dates and times available for a prospective Fall 2012 Kindergarten tour of Mission Dolores Academy:
Wednesday, October 5th from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, October 12th from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, November 2nd from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

School tours are conducted in small groups of 10 or less prospective parents. We tour the school, visit Kindergarten class then, meet briefly for Q&A. At the end of the tour each visitor receives an enrollment packet.
(415)346-0143 Nicole McAuliffe


  1. MJ, I look forward to reading you posts from the tours.
    Thanks for taking the time to write and post.

  2. Sorry for the typo... I meant
    your posts....

  3. When you tour Bessie Carmichael, look for a K teacher named Mr. Haigwood. He is a star. Warm, caring, creative, energetic. All the things you'd want for a K teacher.

  4. I don't want to discourage you or denigrate the previous comment, but I really urge you to look beyond kindergarten to the upper grades when you tour. I've toured more schools than I care to remember, some of them held in low esteem. I never saw a kindergarten that wasn't sweet and energetic. Look at the third to fifth grade classes--are the teachers making an effort to engage and energize those kids, or just going through the motions? What I saw in the higher grades influenced my decisions a lot more than what I saw in kindergarten. If public is your only option, whether by choice or necessity, you need to know that once you're in an SFUSD school, they don't make it easy to transfer to another one.

    I'm not saying that tours are the be-all and end-all of information. You usually see the kids in the morning when they're fresh. Schools change over time, teachers and principals come and go, and populations change. Just as an example, over the past few years, Grattan has gone from being a mostly low-income school to one of the whitest, most affluent schools in SFUSD. I'm sure the kids in today's 4th grade are very different from 4th graders I saw several years ago.

    You hope to be making a six- to nine-year commitment (unless you love it so much you want to do it again every year :0)). Look at the whole package, not just the kindergarten cuties.

  5. Demographics can be very different in K and 5. Also, you might look at 4 and 5 graders and think they are rowdy and look like a bunch of hoodlums. This is b/c you have a small sweet 4 year old. Big kids are louder and wear hoody sweatshirts. Do not be alarmed. I've heard comments like this before about Sunnyside and McKinley, that the older grades were sort of second class citizens shoved in a corner, no parent support, a rough bunch, it's pooey.

  6. One more point about how different grade levels look on tour. Even in a relatively affluent school, parent involvement in the classroom drops off substantially by 4th and 5th grade. You might see three or four parents volunteering in each Kindergarten class and none or maybe one in an upper grade. There are a few reasons for this drop-off. Some parents realize that they don't really enjoy being in the classroom; others figure out that their child will be fine without them there; and some kids don't want mom and dad hanging around any more. I spent hours every week in my kids' classrooms from K-5 and the other day my high school daughter told me that she wishes I hadn't been there so much, because my presence squelched her ability to develop independence.

  7. Of course kids don't behave the same in grades 4 and 5 as they do kindergarten. But you can still see if the teachers are sleepwalking or trying to engage the kids. I've seen 4th, 5th and older grade classes on tours where the students and teachers are still enthusiastically engaged in the material, and I've seen 4th and 5th graders and their teachers look bored and miserable on tours.