Thursday, January 21, 2016

Our Journey to Public Education Part Three

As I'm writing these posts, I'm trying to be completely transparent. I'm pretty sure I broke one of the first unwritten rules that a child learns "never say never". I may have said something along the lines of "we will never go to public school again." Now, I would never look down on anyone for choosing that option, but we were doing something better, or so I thought. Like I said, transparency is not always pretty. I just want you to see how much God had changed my heart when the day I took my children to this new public school, I had the most peace in my heart that I had ever had on a first day of school. To catch up on how we got to this place click here for Part One and here for Part Two.

I will never forget the school's namesake as he stood at the front door and greeted each child as they entered on that first day. He's an older gentleman who's been a "servant hearted" laborer within the district for years. I know this may sound strange to some but the best way that I can describe this man is that he radiates Jesus. This got me thinking that maybe there is something more behind the reason why this school seems so unique.

Since there are basically three different story lines and the story is still being written, I'll start where I began with Harrison. I had a couple of concerns for Harrison starting out on top of the fact that he was going to be so behind his peers with reading. First, he is a homebody and going from three days at school to five was going to be an adjustment and I just wasn't sure how he was going to handle that. Even though he's always made friends easily, I still worried a little that it might be hard at first coming into this new environment. 

Cookies after the first day of school.
As it turned, there was no reason to worry, a lesson I'm afraid I have to keep learning and I know I'm not alone here! Harrison loved walking to school, especially walking our crazy wiener dog, Rosey. That actually helped get him up in the morning. He also seemed to make a friend right away, but in typical Harrison fashion, he could not remember his name. He also discovered that he had been missing something his first two years of school, PE. I'm pretty sure he thought he'd died and gone to heaven with this super fun and creative PE coach and class. Overall, he just seemed to be adjusting better than I could've imagined.

Since Harrison still couldn't tell me a name of any friends at school, I began to get a little concerned that maybe he wasn't making friends. So I set up a little play date at the play ground after school. As we walked to the play ground, no less than five kids yelled "Hi Harrison!" so I didn't worry about that any more!

A few weeks into the school year, he began tutoring with his teacher on reading after school. Although I knew he needed it, I thought it was going to make for a long day and I was hoping he wouldn't rebel against it. One night Harrison asked me "What's tomorrow?". When I replied "It's Tuesday", he said "Yay, that's tutoring day!". This blew me away and I began seeing what an amazing teacher he has been blessed with.

Harrison and his amazing teacher.
Harrison's confidence began growing with reading and one day he proudly told me that he was reading the same as everyone in his class. Although I'm pretty sure that there was some kid tucked away in the corner reading Harry Potter, this wise teacher had set up her classroom in a way that made each student feel successful. This impressed me so much. It also became more and more clear how much she is a champion for each of students celebrating each success along with them.

I have watched Harrison grow so much this year, it has been so neat to see. God has also done something amazing for me, He has shown me that Harrison is learning so much through this process of learning to read. He has learned to work hard at a young age. I've also am seeing more and more of his gifts like with mathematics and how he can tackle the most challenging of Lego builds with ease. I'm so thankful that God directed us as he did, because I cannot imagine Harrison being in the hands of a more determined teacher. I will forever be grateful and we still have another semester to go!  

As far as Haley goes, she has made the transition with such ease. It should come as no surprise that my artsy creative girl loves not having to wear a uniform! As I said before, her teacher is amazing and has actually given her a new love of reading. She's directed Haley to some books that have really inspired her. This teacher clearly sees the gifts in each of her students and that is a gift! Haley especially loves having an on campus library and she naturally enjoys the weekly art class. 

Haley and I at fifth grade camp
Haley has made some super sweet friends, but she is also beginning to navigate the waters socially. I do believe that being in this school has opened up some very important conversations that I'm not sure we would have had if we had stayed at our old school. Haley has been given the opportunity to stick up for a kid who was getting picked on and as far as I can tell she handled the situation with grace. Haley and I also got to attend fifth grade camp. It definitely provided us with some growth opportunities and memories we will never forget. I'm so thankful for how easy the transition has been for her. Now, I'm gearing up and praying for the next big step of moving on to middle school!

As far as for myself, I have gotten involved with the Moms in Prayer group, in fact I am now leading it each week in our home. There is just a special bond when you pray together and I am so thankful to have friends that feel the same way about prayer. We have had some pretty big things to be praying for and it is an honor to be able to do that each week. I've also had the chance to put a prayer request box in the teachers' lounge. We provided a snack bar one day for the teachers which in God's perfect timing happened to be right after a student sadly passed away from cancer. I was so thankful that our group could provide a small amount of comfort for the teachers on such a tough day. I have so much respect for teachers, it's a priviledge to get to support them in this way even if it is "behind the scenes". 

I am now involved with the Good News Club that is meeting this winter for six weeks. It's pretty incredible to be sharing the gospel to 120 kids inside of a public school. I have never felt more that my mission field is right where I live. I think the season is now to be a light right here the community where we have been placed.

I hope that I can be a voice of encouragement if God is calling you or your family into an unknown situation that there really is no better place to be than in his will. That is truly the safest place you can be. This story is still being written, so I hope to write another update again this spring.


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