So, we're still poor. The Texas house is scheduled to go to closing April 15, but until then we're eating an insane amount of pasta. Also, we can't really spring for a real Internet connection. I'm posting from friends' houses and the library and McDonald's. This entire post is being typed on the itty-bitty keyboard on my phone. I can't put anything in bold or italics because I don't know how to highlight text on my phone. Every time I try, I mess it up and get too annoyed to deal with it.
Regardless, I have rediscovered my love of Ramen noodles, and the kids are reading tons of library books. So thumbs up for being poor! Yay! It's totally like we're Amish or Laura Ingalls or something. Little Rental House in the Suburbs. Except for the Wii, the DVD player, and the smart phone. So maybe we're not *that* poor. More like temporarily inconvenienced.
Plus? I'm so freaking happy. I'm home. The girls are back with their friends, in their old Girl Scout troop, in their old school.
Ahhh ... their school. It is not without its challenges. It is a financially-stressed school serving a population that is truly diverse: ethnically, racially, religiously, socioeconomically. And it. Is. Awesome. It doesn't have the highest standardized test scores in the county, but that's certainly not for lack of effort on the part of teachers and administration. What it does have is a nurturing environment, a curriculum that challenges every student, and seriously amazing, devoted staff.
When I asked about 504 plans for ADHD and anxiety, the school social worker got right in touch with me to explain the process. She asked if we could wait a couple of weeks to schedule the meeting to give the teachers some time to observe the girls and be able to make suggestions for accommodations. Ummm ... okeydokey. I (heart) suggestions! (In the meantime, the teachers are working with us, without the 504s in place, to make things smooth for the girls.)
And then there's Little Dude. I've already met with the Special Ed Coordinator for the district to discuss options for Kindergarten for Little Dude. The district has an autism support classroom, but given Little Dude's verbal skills, the feeling is that there's no reason the district can't provide appropriate programming, support, and therapies in the mainstream classroom. Thhe Special Ed Coordinator was ah-may-zing. She had all kinds of concerns, questions, and ideas. She sent me the link to apply for "wrap-around" services through the state. (This is supplemental insurance that we should qualify for regardless of income.)
I left the meeting elated. Honestly, it was just delightful to go to a meeting where our son's education -- and his whole being -- were the top priorities. I didn't leave feeling like I needed to look up Pennsylvania education law. I didn't leave worrying about the coming year. I left feeling like we had tons of options and a great team in place.
I'm not writing this to brag about the Little School District That Could. I'm not writing this to dis our old school, and certainly not to compare Texas schools to Pennsylvania schools. We had some *great* teachers in Texas.
I'm writing this to say that public schools can and do work. Our school has tons of parental involvement, and that goes hand-in-hand with the great teachers and caring administration. It's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy: we all seem to believe the kids and the school are *awesome,* therefor it is true.