I spent my entire schooling career in a small Christian school (for which I am very thankful). My wife also was private-schooled from third grade until graduation. When we moved our children to public school (each of them starting in 7th grade), we had some fears and expectations. Most are our fears were unfounded and most of our expectations were just wrong. Here are some things I was surprised by (and shouldn't have been):
- For some strange reason, I wrongly assumed that their teachers would be unpleasant, angry people who hated their jobs and disliked my children. It took about one week to figure out how wrong that assumption was. I had such great experiences with our private school teachers, I expected the worst. That was stupid and unfair.
- I have been amazed at how almost every teacher arrives early and stays late and students are invited to come early to school or stay late for extra help.
- I have been so thankful for all the teachers who give up their free period to help students and some who just let students (including my children) eat lunch in their rooms and laugh and joke around with them with their friends.
- I have been shocked by how many teachers remember my name and my daughter's names. With hundreds of students – how do they do that? They see me a handful of times a year, but so many of them remember our names and go out of their way to greet us when they see us at school or in public!
- I have been shocked by how approachable teachers are when we meet with them about our concerns over the curriculum. Although we clearly disagree on some important issues with many of them, I've discovered nothing but respect from all of the teachers we've interacted with. They have even offered to let our students miss certain lectures. (We've never taken advantage of that offer; we just wanted to know what the topics were so our children would hear some things from us first.)
- I have been so happy with how supportive teachers are when we miss school for family trips. We've taken our girls on mission trips, college trips, and even vacations during school days and although it has to be a major pain for them, they always express excitement to our daughters and always help our girls "catch up." I know those trips aren't "approved" as excused absences, yet they are so supportive of our parenting decisions.
We are getting close to our oldest graduating and I hear so many complaints about schools and teachers, I felt compelled to give my limited, but very thankful perspective.
I know most of the teachers of West Irondequoit schools will likely never read this, but I sure hope to thank as many as I can in the next three years until all three of my children have graduated.