School Update: Pre-K Selection Process

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Spoiler Alert: Fairley’s starting Pre-K next year! Early this year, I wrote about my thoughts and feelings as we first started touring schools. Now I’d love to give an update, especially because I agree with a friend who recently encouraged a group of moms to “be journalists for our kids, chronicling the goodness of God daily for our families.” This is my chance to tell of God’s goodness.

So after we toured A LOT of schools, we made our list. We thought through lots of various factors as we listed out (in order of preference) or top 12 school choices. Some were in our district (with a better chance of getting in) and others were in surrounding districts. I fought through some hard truths that God was showing me – my identity should be in him alone as his daughter, not as a Stay-at-Home Mom. (If my identity lies there, see, I lose half of my identity come fall.) This process also made me think through what true submission in a marriage looks like. In most big decisions that Freeman and I have made we have been in unity, so the idea that we might not agree on a school but I’d still need to submit to him was scary for me. But God called me to trust him. (And to pray that we’d be unified in this process.)

Earlier this month, we received the letter stating that we were being offered a spot at the Early Childhood Design and Discovery Magnet School. Our first thought was, “Awesome, we got into a school out of our district!” (And the name alone sounded awesome, although not familiar.) Our district is, unfortunately, a poor-performing district overall, although there are a few very good schools within our district.

But our immediate second thought was, “Wait, why didn’t this school fill up in district? Maybe it’s not good?!” But it’s walking distance from our place, and on our favorite bus route, so I was excited about the proximity and tried to think through some of the positive aspects of this placement.

But then we started to fill irresponsible in some ways as God began to strip our feelings of control in this. See, we had toured many schools. But this one not one of the schools we had toured. We instantly felt like we had not done our “due diligence” by putting a school we hadn’t toured pretty high up on our list. But it looked great online at the time, and we knew it wasn’t in district, so we thought our chances were slim.

So we stopped then and decided to pray. I actually stopped myself from even looking up reviews online or calling anyone else to consult. God was good to stop me in my tracks and say, “Just talk to me first. Pray that I’d help you see clearly in this.”

I did, however, decide to just stroll by the school that morning. The outside is completely under construction, so it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing school right now. Again, I prayed, “Lord, help me see past first impressions.” We kept praying for clarity, and we began reading online reviews and talking things through with one another and with other friends and my mom, who is an educator.

I called then to schedule a tour. I prayed that God would make things clear for me. That if it’s where Fairley should be next year, that I would feel a peace. And that if it wasn’t, I would see something that would stop me in my tracks.

I showed up at PS 185 (the city given name for this school) and checked in with the security officer. Then I walked into the Parent Coordinator’s office and took a seat on her couch. I sat next to two moms, one, I soon learned was the PTA President, and the other was there with her son to enroll. I instantly started to feel a peace come over me. How sweet a gift that God placed two women in that office that day who were so genuinely excited about this school that I’d never seen and who could tell me the things that they loved while I sat and waited for my tour.

During the tour, I felt more at home. It felt like a place that I could teach. I agreed with the early childhood philosophy, the emphasis on play, their discipline policy, and so much more. I know that every school will have its flaws, and I’m ok with that, but I was feeling more and more like this might be the right place.

That’s when God began to show his hand in this to us even more. We had done everything we thought we could do to make the best decision, but he took it out of our hands and reminded us that he’s ultimately in control. He put us in a place we didn’t expect to show that He’s in control, and we need to trust him. See, we loved a lot of the schools that we toured, but this one actually has more of what we were looking for than any of the others. How good is God?!

So we decided that if Freeman toured and felt a peace, we’d enroll. He toured and liked what he saw as well. And then, in the meantime, God put more people in my life who knew of the school, one who knows the principal, and others who are enrolling, too (and it was their FIRST choice – woo!). With every day, we were feeling increasingly confident that this is the right place for us to be. We’re seeing God’s hand all over it, and we’re thanking him for taking us through this process.

So last week, Fairley and I boarded the M1 Bus and made our way down to 112th Street and 5th Avenue (a five minute bus ride). She excitedly entered what she calls “The Lego Lab.” (It is a magnet school with a lego grant, their curriculum focusing on engineering and problem solving.) She sat excitedly while I filled out paperwork, eager to see “her school.”

After we gave and received all the proper information and documentation, Fairley asked to take a little tour. Ms. Vargas showed us the Pre-K classes. We went into one. My heart leapt to see the free play centers. Fairley loved the home center, where two kids were setting out a great dinner they had made. The teacher’s name was Ms. Jackie. Children were working eagerly, but the room also had a calming ambiance. I breathed deeply. We went back into the hall, and Ms. Vargas asked Fairley if she liked that room. She said, “YES!” Ms. Vargas said, “Do you want that you be your classroom?” Fairley agreed, and Ms. Vargas looked at me for approval. I said, “Whatever you think is best!” She said, “Ok, that’s your class!” Fairley was thrilled. (And I reminded her that sometimes things change over the summer, but it’s exciting to think that maybe we saw her classroom and teacher today.)

But – for now – we are enrolled! Fairley will start school on September 8th. And between now and then, we keep praying, and we’d love to ask you to join us in prayer for these things:

  • For a kind teacher (possibly, her name is Ms. Jackie)
  • That all of our hearts would transition well. That Fairley will transition to a long school day and to being out of our house and with another teacher and friends for a large portion of the day. For me and J.D., as we will both miss having her at home. (She’s a joy, you know!)
  • That we’d be educational advocates for Fairley and all the children in the school
  • That we as a family would be a light in the school – loving people with the love of Christ and looking for opportunities to tell them why we can do that (because of the Gospel!)
  • And finally, that they would approve our request to continue letting Fairley attend her Bible Study Fellowship class once a week. It’s a long shot, but we’re going to pray boldly and trust the Lord’s answer.

So there you have it! Our experience in the NYC Pre-K process. Now we only have to do this again for Kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, etc…

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