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School's Out For Summer!

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The countdown began a couple of weeks ago, when my six-year-old was moping about each morning, telling me, "I'm sick!" when he was only, variously, tired, cranky, or wishing he could stay home and play with his little brother. "Only 14 more days of school," I'd say, "you can make it!"

Today, with the retirement of a beloved kindergarten teacher approaching and the skittering knowledge that going back to Bridger is an impractical choice that would likely result in ill attention for my rising first-grader's rising needs -- he's been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, something that just can't be supported in a neighborhood classroom of 38 first-graders, and now that his big brother isn't going to the school, he no longer gets the "tagalong" status allowing a school bus to take him the 3.5 miles from our house -- I'm saying so long to a school community I'd really grown to love. There are too many people to whom to say goodbye.

I'm not the only one among the urbanMamas who is saying goodbye. I'll let Olivia tell her own story, but her Facebook status last night about an exchange with her graduating oldest daughter had tears in many of our eyes. There are littler goodbyes -- preschool graduations, neighborhood moves, and the like. I chatted yesterday with a life-changing therapist, one who'd worked with Everett in an unusually empathetic and knowing way. All of the mental health professionals -- all of them, except for one school psychologist assigned to each school (often on a half-time basis) -- are losing their jobs. Those with seniority will be re-assigned, maybe as school counsellors. The special ed director has decided that children's mental health shouldn't be supported by schools. (More about this later.)

It's a sparkling, celebratory time for many children, but even those like Truman who spent considerable energy trying to stay home will miss the friends and teachers they loved. A bittersweet time of release from schedules and change in environment. A hope for warm sidewalks and bare feet and ripe strawberries from the garden. The feeling is in the air and in the skips of students through the streets.

How are you feeling as school gets out? What are your happies and sads? To whom are you saying goodbye this June?

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The end of school is bittersweet in for our family this year as well. My daughter is transitioning from middle school to high school. She transferred out of our neighborhood school for K-5 and middle school, but will attend our neighborhood comprehensive high school. She's excited about moving up and the new opportunities high school will bring, but is sad that she won't attend high school with many of her middle school friends and will know so few people as she enters her Freshman year at her new school. But she has always been great at transitions, and I'm hoping this one will be as smooth as all of the others in her life.

I'm very excited that this is the last day!! I'm so sick of the "routine". Arguing with my daughter to get her homework done, arguing with her to get her to bed on time, arguing with her to get her up in the morning on time.

I know she has fun in school with her friends, and she does very well in school so for that I'm grateful, but the routine and all the arguing that goes along with it drives me nuts!!!

So YAY!!! Summer break is finally here!! YIPPEE!!!

My rising 6th grader had a simply horrible year, largely due to the evil that is her new principal---so this day couldn't arrive fast enough for us! A nice leisurely summer is just what we both need to recharge--and in the fall she'll be at her dream school, Da Vinci!

Since some other parents and I have organized to have our concerns (this principal also bullies a lot of really nice teachers) addressed by PPS, I'll be focusing my energy on that this summer, as well.

38 first graders? Really? Evil principals? Reading this, I think I just said goodbye to my final shred of willingness to subject my very sensitive girl to crumbling, crowded, struggling PPS.

On a nicer note, we said goodbye to the graduating third-years at our Montessori preschool, and hello to 10 whole days of jammie mornings and crossed fingers for warm weather -- until our beloved summer program kicks off.

My kids are in Montessori and the oldest is moving to Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade) next year. It feels like a major transition for him as he is in the oldest group of his class this year and will be in the youngest next year. It will be great for him I know, but I'm also prepared to provide some extra support in the Fall.

Every time I hear of the woes in other schools, it makes me extra grateful to have the kids at a school where we have 100% faith and trust. We sink every month financially and that wouldn't be the choice for every family, but I'm glad it's the choice we have made.

Are you at Franciscan Montessori Earth
School? I am interested in hearing more about that school.

Perhaps others have had bad experiences in their schools, but we have had an absolutely wonderful experience in our Portland public school. I wouldn't let one posters bad experience deter you from the whole system. The teachers at our school love and nurture the kids while teaching them amazing life skills and the principal is the best!
Our kiddos went to Montessori preschool and we loved that experience too, but there are things that the public school offers that the Montessori could not (plus we aren't paying the high tuition each month).

I cried on the playground the last day of school! I'm happy for summer, but it's bittersweet knowing that they are getting older. I am looking forward to hopefully having a better experience next year, though, now that my son has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Now we can address that instead of another grueling year of dreading phone calls from his teacher and principal.
I've had a largely positive experience with our public school, and I know a lot of parents at other schools who have as well. I know one person switching schools, but that's okay, too. There are many choices within the public school framework, at least in Portland and if you can get in. Lewis, Abernathy, Beach, Buckman - good things about all of those. Others I just don't know that much about.

This is our first year for summer break, and although glad for some change of routine, I will be driving more (camps, playdates, etc) and dealing with a lot more coordination with friends and family. Twelve weeks is a long (and expensive) time to fill and we are fortunate that I am off Fridays and we have family in town to help out. The principal of our school (we and the community loved her) was reassigned by the superintendent late in the school year and we don’t yet know who the new one will be.Even with the levy there will be cuts and changes in the new school year. We had a great first year with a wonderful teacher and a diverse group of kids. We will see many friends at the park and the library since we attend our neighborhood school, plus lots of friends from school and preschool are attending the same camps and/or having play dates and babysitter days. So I would say feeling mixed.

I have very mixed feelings about the end of the year. On the one hand, I am so glad for summer. I love the lazy days of doing whatever strikes our fancy. We have our work schedules arranged so one of us is always home and that gives us the freedom to find summer more relaxing than others might. We'll see friends in the parks and have lots of playdates. I am sad that we are leaving our school after two years and will be jumping into a new one in the fall. I find it very sad and infuriating that all the PPS comments have to include "depending on the school you are lucky enough to get in to." All of our schools should be as lovely as the commonly named "good ones." We've decided to take a break from cuts and frustrations and are trying private. For all of us at my home the summer is giving us a needed break from the stress of the daily routine and the emotions of having struggled with the decision and then the process of ending.

About PPS schools... the Sw corner here is awesome. Stephenson was warm and friendly. Jackson has so much to offer with the Leonard Bernstein artful learning program and Wilson high has given my kids some amazing mentors.

http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools/jackson/344.htm

But yes, its nice to have a summer break, no matter how good your schools are! We made a great breakfast, went through the old school year's papers and filed them away and have stayed in our pajamas as if it were Sunday.

ditto momx3 ! Although we've been to three schools (charter, neighborhood, and transfer), each has had a unique impact, a learning experience, and its share of ups & downs.

Also, I've learned from years of going from work full time to at-home mom full time during the summer (I'm a college professor) that the most success I've had with the transition out of the routines of the school year and into the lax summer vacation has been the explicit recognition on all of our parts to allow for a couple weeks' adjustment. We're all accustomed to our own time, with separation that allows us to explore our interests and work independently. We usually find that entering into summer with the idea that we'll all want to be together all the time is setting us up for colossal sibling fights, mama freaking-the-f***-out, and general discontent.

We set up a pseudo-routine with school type vocab- choice time, arts, outdoor activity, etc...to begin with. We'll see what happens in a couple weeks...

Now on to birthdays, the river, and camping with 4 kids in tow!

I really do appreciate the encouragement re: PPS. But yes, it's the qualifier -- "If you can get into ____ school" -- that makes me want to run the other way. I don't want to spend the next 12 years fighting for my child's educational survival. Hyperbole alert -- the PPS lottery feels like The Hunger Games lottery. Luck, fitness, and politics determine whether our kids live through it. Ugh. Sorry, didn't mean to hijack this thread -- back to the main point: I'm so happy my 4-year-old started reading this year, and I can't wait to keep that going this summer. But I'm sad that we're headed toward the closing year at our beloved preschool. Letting go and holding close at the same time ... that's motherhood.

Our daughter graduated from the fifth grade last Monday. On our way to graduation, my daughter asked me, "mom, does my hair look ok?" I said, "yes", and I started to cry. Our family is going through huge transition this year, and moving from elementary to middle school is just one of them. I am sad to leave a school community into which I have invested so much time and love. I hate to graduate, but everyone does move on. I went to the school about 2 hours after dismissal on the last day, to say some prolonged goodbyes to all the teachers and staff. The rooms looked empty, so lived-in, so well-used. The teachers looked exhausted. In fact, one teacher was stretching, lying on the floor when I came in.

I sometimes fantasize about year-long school calendars when I don't need to worry about 10 weeks of break & lining up childcare. But, this year, I am looking forward to the 10 weeks off. I want there to be little, little structure and lots, lots of simple fun (I say that now!). With my eldest almost 11, with neighbor friends, and with some basic independence to walk to parks/friends' houses, we have no camps lined up even though my husband and I work full-time. I am looking forward to some really nice down time for us all.

My daughter & all her friends were tearful on Monday & Tuesday. On Wednesday, we had a little small grad celebration, there was lots of fun had, so it was a wonderful mood lifter for a melancholic time. I asked her friends to jot down some notes in her "baby" book and we will all look back to this day with love.

Also, I am "friends" on Facebook with my elementary school chorus teacher. In the 8th grade, we sang a song for the school, a goodbye ballad that filled the soul when there was such void. I asked her for the name of the song & hope I can download it to play for my daughter.

Goodbyes are really, really hard. There are still so many that we'll have to say in our future.

I'm happy to have summer days to spend with kids and less rushing around but sad because it's not summer weather yet!

Bring on the SUN!

In re the PPS discussion--there are definitely inequities and problems to be fixed, and it's not easy given the budget cuts all Oregon school systems are dealing with. I give our current superintendent and school board credit for addressing the issue of unequal experiences head on even if they've yet to achieve the goal of a high-quality education for every single student.

At the same time . . . I think that most families have an in-depth knowledge of only a few schools. It can be easy to think that other schools are better, in a grass-is-greener way; and it can be easy to assume that other schools are worse, perhaps because they serve low-income or minority children. Both of these are assumptions, so they don't make a great basis for discussion or blanket pronouncements.

At the same time, I hear many parents playing the "sibling" game with schools, talking about how unfair it is that so-and-so has this great program and we don't. Basically, they're convinced that mom loves their sister more than them. But unless you know both schools well (and that's hard to do), you might be comparing apples and oranges--or even apples and hearsay oranges. Again, this doesn't make it easy to have a real conversation.

Amy, please don't think I said ALL PPS schools are bad, we just had a really dreaful new principal. She's pretty much hated equally by parents, staff and students---and we're doing our community thing to get her reassigned.

That aside, my daughter's teacher of the past two years was beyond amazing (able to teach 32 different kids in the class each at their own level). I also have nothing but the best expectations as we look forward to Da Vinci.

As for the lottery, even if you "lose" (we did for middle school), you can still hardship appeal. You also may find what you thought would be great, wasn't and vice versa. There are probably more great schools in PPS than bad ones.

Additionally, overall PPS schools just really aren't nearly as terrible as urban legend/prevailing wisdom makes them out to be. Just be sure you do your research when the time comes. Your nieghborhood school might be great.

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