Hi everyone! I’m really excited to be contributing to the K Files. I grew up in the New Jersey suburbs, where education is king and people pay crazy high property taxes for well-funded school systems. I don’t know if I endorse that whole system, but I had some wonderful teachers and I would love for my children to get the same solid preparation and excitement for learning that I did.
I have heard that San Francisco has some great schools, but you have to be proactive. So for several years, I’ve been the crazy lady asking co-workers, friends, even people on the bus about the schools their children attend. Then I was on maternity leave with child #2 last fall, so I figured, why not throw the little one in the Baby Bjorn and check out some schools? I was concerned that starting so early would turn me into a stress case, but luckily, I think it made me more positive--well, about the schools, maybe not the process!
We live in the friendly, foggy Inner Sunset/Golden Gate Heights, and it turns out we are surrounded by well-regarded schools. Last year, I toured a number within striking distance: Clarendon, Grattan, West Portal, Miraloma, Alice Fong Yu, Glen Park, Sunnyside, New Traditions, McKinley, and Creative Arts Charter School. I was impressed and very pleasantly surprised. At almost every school, the facilities were gorgeous, the teachers seem dedicated and warm, and the parents are certainly contributing a tremendous amount, both in terms of time and financial support. Of course, most of the schools I mentioned are oversubscribed, so we’ll want to keep searching out the hidden gems.
So far, I think we’ve settled on a few criteria:
1) First and foremost, we want a school with creative, engaged, committed teachers and leadership. This actually seems like one of the hardest things to learn from a tour, so any advice commenters have on how to suss this out would be helpful. I’ve heard Parents for Public Schools can connect you to current parents at a school--has anyone done that?
2) A school with an arts focus sounds great, or math and science. Oddly, there don’t seem to be that many SFUSD schools with a math and science focus--or perhaps I’m not aware of them?
3) I am interested in K-8 schools, and definitely want to check out Lawton for that reason. I love the idea of a smaller, more manageable school, particularly in grades 6-8.
4) All else being equal, we would like a school with a neighborhood focus. It’s hard for me to put into words exactly, but we love running into preschool classmates at the playground and I think providing our kids with the opportunity to head over to a friend’s house spontaneously or have unstructured playtime with other neighborhood kids could be a great antidote to our super scheduled modern lives.
5) We’re open to language immersion, but it’s probably not a deciding factor. I have a tour scheduled at Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila, and I am also thinking of checking out Rosa Parks and Alvarado, although those are not as convenient.
In addition to public schools, we’ll apply to Brandeis. Our Judaism is important to our family and I keep hearing that it’s an amazing school. We might also try another private school application, maybe Alta Vista?
In my next post, I’ll share highlights from some schools I visited last year. If there are any schools that folks think I should put on my list, please let me know!!