School in the City

There was a nice story in the Inky yesterday about the elementary school Jada will be going to starting this fall, in which I am quoted as a prospective parent doing what I can to make sure my daughter gets a coveted spot in kindergarten: "Penn Neighborhood Blooms Around a Top School." I feel fortunate that one of the big question marks to committing to urban living - will I be able to send my kids to a good school - has an easy answer in our case. The economics and socio-economics of school in the city is that it's not easy to find places that are good, cheap, AND available. But we've hardly had to settle for one or two out of three.

In fact, everywhere we've turned, God has taken care of us:

* Jada's first school was on the recommendation of three parents from our church; though it was relatively steep, we lucked into the school's best teacher, so found it worth the dough.

* Jada's second school (and Aaron's first) was actually run out of a woman's house; it was a great combination of being dirt cheap and high-touch.

* Jada's third school (and Aaron's second) was also dirt cheap, and a little rough, but we were pleased to find the people there just golden, and so it worked for us.

* Aaron still goes to that school, as well as to his "circle" school, which has been good for his behavioral issues and has the nice benefit of being completely free to us because of insurance (and he gets picked up by a yellow school bus, to boot).

* Jada's fourth school (and where Aaron will go starting in the fall) is acclaimed citywide, and has been a godsend for Jada, given her verbal challenges. And, unbeknownest to us, we qualify for their "Pre-K Counts" program, which means the Commonwealth picks up a large part of the tab, making this otherwise pricey option relatively affordable.

And, Jada's fifth school, which I'll hope to successfully enroll Aaron into in 21 months, is also acclaimed citywide, and, as a public school, is free. There's even a really good after-school program right on the same campus that they can go to without us having to schlep them to it.

In other words, we've been fortunate all throughout as we've tried to make decisions to live in the city and provide what our kids need. Particularly as I hear of my friends' agonies over schooling options, I realize how much easier it's been for Amy and me, and I am thankful to God for it.

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