Category Archives: Education

Half Day Kindergarten

Tour of My Childhood: Scotch SchoolI’m a work-at-home dad. With a 2-year-old and an almost 5-year-old. That means I don’t get much work done.

In the past few months I’ve gone from one child napping in the morning and both children napping in the afternoon to only one child napping in the afternoon.

Work happens during that lone naptime, in the evenings and when I’m otherwise neglecting my children. In other words, not much work happens. And I have no social life.

I’ve been holding out hope for kindergarten. The Tuesday after Labor Day couldn’t come soon enough.

Until I learned our district only offers half day kindergarten. All day kindergarten, it turns out, is not mandated by the state. So if you want it, in our district at least, you pay for it. To the tune of nearly $3,000.

I wanted to cry when I heard the news.

I love my kids and it’s pretty great that I get to stay home with them. But the whining, complaining, fighting and general disorder are not my cup of tea. Unlike some people, this is not my calling.

I’m trying to console myself with the fact that half day kindergarten is better for kids, that it’s a more gradual introduction to school, that all day kindergarten is mostly filler and babysitting, that naptime may even resume when kindergarten starts.

But I was really counting on that babysitting.

Now I’ve got my sights set on 2014.

(As much as I dislike the district’s policy, in a time of budget cuts, salary freezes and rejected levies, it’s a pretty smart fiscal policy.)

First Day of School

Today is Yeshumnesh’s first day of school. She’s nervous. It’s the first day in a new school, in a new state, in a new grade, in a new everything. She’s very nervous.

I’m pretty anxious as well. As parents we haven’t done the whole first day of school thing before, and now we’re jumping straight into middle school. We’ve met teachers and toured the school and found lockers and all the rest, but we can’t help feeling like we’re forgetting something or we haven’t done everything we can to prepare Yeshumnesh. And I hate to keep asking about things and just bring up more to worry about: When is lunch? Do you want to bring a snack? Do you have a house key? Do you remember our address? Should you bring gym clothes?

It all gives me flashbacks to my own first days of school… (cue nostalgic rambling)

The Pillar: Kindergarten & 2nd GradeIt starts with my first day of kindergarten. I rode the school bus to Scotch Elementary School with my older brother, then an experienced second grader. I remember watching out the window as our bus picked up the other children.

When we got to school I stepped off the bus and had no idea where to go. So I followed my brother. My older, smarter, more confident brother. He knew everything. And I knew him. So I followed him.

He told me to go to my class. Then he turned around and walked away.

And I was alone.

I cried.

Continue reading First Day of School

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teachers have a hard job. Somehow everything is their fault. We rarely blame the parents or the administration or the kids themselves. We like to blame those lazy teachers, who clearly went into the job for the money.

It’s easy to dump on teachers and education in general. Marketing guru Seth Godin has given education a beating, especially with the release of his latest book, Linchpin. I haven’t read it, but much of they hype and talk surrounding the book’s release related to education. It centered on the idea that schools churn out similar students who are factory automatons and don’t know how to think differently or be remarkable—resulting in failure in the real world. I constantly hear people go on much like Godin does about how horrible schools are.

I think that’s a bunch of garbage.

Continue reading Teacher Appreciation Week

School Loans & Audio Adrenaline

I just received a statement from Wells Fargo showing a breakdown of interest, principal and total paid on our school loans over the past 8+ years. And the current balance, of course. Horribly depressing. Even more depressing when I consider that’s only one of our student loans (and let’s not talk about a mortgage).

About 10 years ago I interviewed Bob Herdman, keyboardist and guitar player for the Christian band Audio Adrenaline. At the time I was an intern, working my first real writing job and doing one of my first real interviews. I had no idea what I was doing and the fact that a “rock star” would just call me up like that for a phone interview was incredible. Little did I realize how mundane that is.

Anyway, the article would cover Audio Adrenaline’s college years and what Herdman learned from college, a fairly interesting piece for the Christian college guide it would appear in. (Reality check: It never appeared. The college guide was never published, due to all sorts of insanity I didn’t understand at the time, nor will I get into here.)

At one point in the interview Herdman mentioned that he still had school loans he hadn’t paid off. He said something about paying $50 a month for 10 years now. He could have been exaggerating, I have no idea, but I remember being horrified at the thought. Imagine it, a successful rock star with outstanding college loans. Granted Audio Adrenaline was never a mainstream success. But they had plenty of success in the Christian market, at that time were releasing their fifth album (Underdog) and were still riding high from their 1996 hit album Bloom (certified Gold).

I knew Christian rock band wasn’t exactly a lucrative career path. I knew Herdman may have had other spending priorities (my own financial advisor talks about student loans as “good debt,” a concept I understand but still bristle at). But still. I couldn’t fathom the concept of a successful rock star not having paid off their college loans yet.

And here I sit, 10 years later, looking at a loan statement and beginning to feel sympathy instead of bewilderment. I wonder if Herdman finished paying off his school loans?

Off to College

With school starting up again a number of the kids in youth group are off to college. It makes me remember the many changes that happen in college. You can make lifetime friends in college (I certainly did, much more so than in high school), but it’s also a time of tremendous change. While I was in college I broke up with my girlfriend of several years, my parents separated, my home church fell apart, I stepped away from a longtime ministry and subsequently became distanced from a good friend. I also learned how to live on my own for the first time, I got married, I made some tremendous friends, I discovered that I just might be able to make a living at this writing thing, and my faith took a giant leap (though I’m not sure I could describe in which direction–forward in progress, backwards away from fundamentalism, an increase in depth–I don’t know).

It’s a time in your life marked by incredible change. Some wonderful, but some painful.

I still remember during the first week of school when I was still a wide-eyed freshman, someone recognized that look in my eyes and said, “Just give it a couple of weeks. It’ll be OK.” Not that anything changed in a few weeks. If anything the changes just kept coming. But somehow I was a little better prepared for them.

Finals Week

Finals week. Stress pours out in strange forms. Five friends spent three hours sitting around talking about eunuchs and Unix, trying to knock decks of cards over with their noses. They sit in the dining center making balloons screech and trying to fashion a sling shot from plastic knives and popped balloon pieces. Suddenly time has no meaning. All that matters is what you have left to do before the moment of glorious freedom.

What a strange breed.

Get Out of School Early

A profound and disturbing notion occurred to me the other day. We received our registration materials at school this week, and while planning for next semester I determined that it’s possible for me to graduate a semester early. Thus saving a semester’s worth of tuition and entering the real world a full four or five months earlier. Entering the real world. A real job. A real apartment. A real paycheck. Real bills. Real life. Whoa. I found the concept a little staggering as it settled into my head. It draws a million questions of what I want to do and where I want to go. It draws more properly phrased questions of what God wants to do with me and where he wants me to go. I’m in my third year of college and the reality of school being over and employment beginning has always been a safely distant thought. Now the idea is slightly more than a calendar year away. The thought frightens me.

Where am I going to get a job? What exactly do I want to do? Where do I want to live? Who do I want to live with? Whoa, easy. Here, take a seat for a minute. I’m swimming in questions and all I can do is look up for the Lifeguard. I know he has the plan and he has the answers. I understand that. But I don’t yet see the plan and I don’t yet see the answers and the apprehension fills me. It’s my human reaction and somehow I have to let it go. Otherwise I’ll be kicking and screaming and the Lifeguard will never be able to show me that I’m drowning in the kiddie end of the pool.

Busy Day & Service Learning

Today’s been a very busy day. I don’t think I’ve really had much of a chance to stop all day. And now my pillow is calling my name loud and clear. I must answer the call. But first, a few thoughts.

Today I began work on a service learning project for a class. This is where some smart professor type in an office decides that students would learn more if they went out in the real world and did some volunteer work. So after making some phone calls from their office, they find work for us to do and make it a class requirement. So we went out today, and after finding the correct address (the smart professor gave us the wrong one) we stood around for two hours and didn’t really do much. I did notice something though. Small children chattering in English is hard enough to understand, but once they start talking away in a foreign language, now that’s just wild.