School

What Happened on My Son’s First Day at His New School

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About a year and a half ago, I wrote about the difficult decision to take our son out of public school and send him to a small, private school that could help him with some of his struggles (social skills and reading comprehension). Once we toured the school, I knew it would be so fantastic for him. He was nervous, but he agreed to shadow there for a day, and in the end, the mid-year transition was unbelievably smooth.

He finished out fourth grade and started his fifth grade year. He was doing very well. The school was a great fit for him. He had incredible relationships with some of his teachers, and was starting to build friendships at school. It also happened to be near my husband’s office and next door to the JCC where my daughter was going to start school the following year, which would make drop-offs and pick-ups much easier when she started school. We were certain (and told Joey repeatedly) that he would be at this school through middle school, and we’d decide what to do as far as high school in a few years.

Check this box. We were done with this decision for a while.

In the spring semester, a letter came home saying that this campus was going to be closing their doors. They hadn’t gotten the enrollment they had hoped for. Students would be accepted at the main campus (more than 30 minutes away and not near anything we ever drive to, ever.)

After I got over huffing and puffing and blowing up my friends’ phones, I regrouped. We signed him up to attend that far away campus because after all, this was what he needed, and I wasn’t going to let a few hundred hours of driving per year get in my way. OK, maybe I was still a little bitter.

Right before school ended a friend insisted that I check out a school about 15 minutes away. Even though I was certain about our choice, and was not going to even think about going back on the promise I had made to my son, I agreed to tour the school. IT.WAS.AMAZING! This school was like his current school, but on steroids. They had sports, music, drama, and Spanish. There was a full time guidance counselor and nurse. They had a library. There were so many things I hadn’t even considered that he was missing out on where he currently was. I immediately filled out all of the paperwork and signed him up for a shadow day. But I knew I’d get resistance from him.

At dinner my husband and I casually mentioned the name of the school. He had heard of it because a few of the kids at his current school had left to attend the one we were now considering. We explained about the campus closing, and told him that we wanted him to go shadow for a day, just to see what he thought. Holding back tears, he suggested that we revisit it after one year at the new campus. Eventually he agreed to go and check it out.

He shadowed for a day, and thanks to the God of fortunate timing, it was Pizza Hut Wednesday. Pizza Hut is his favorite food group. He saw a few old familiar faces at school, and liked the campus. He agreed, as did we, that this was a good fit for him.

As the summer started to wind down, he started to show some signs of the anxiety he struggles with. He had a lot of headaches, and was frequently nauseous. He had trouble sleeping. He wasn’t eating much, and whenever we had to do anything related to school (supply shopping, uniforms, etc.) he wanted nothing to do with it.

The morning of the Meet the Teachers event at the new school, Joey was a wreck. He had a headache and stomachache. He was emotional. He really didn’t want to go. But we went.

Then I received the best early birthday present I could have asked for. We looked at his schedule and saw some familiar names. Some of his beloved teachers, who had lost jobs when his campus closed, were now teaching at this school and he was in some of their classes! Not only that, but probably a dozen or more kids that he went to the old school with started to appear. One after another he shyly turned to me and pointed to a kid telling me who they were with a little smile.

When we visited the classrooms of his previous teachers, I saw that fantastic wide smile that the pre-teen doesn’t nearly show me enough of. The teachers were as happy to see him as he was to see them. One of them even joked, “I told them I’d take this job only if I could have you in my class!” I think he believed her, and that’s just fine with me.

He started school the following Monday. When I picked him up, he told me about more of the friends he had run into at school, and how he had lunch with a few of them. He told me if he had to rate the day, he’d give in a nine out of ten. I promised him that this would be THE ONLY school he attended for middle school. The school has been around since 1972 and has a stellar reputation. It isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we.


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Samantha Taylor

Samantha Taylor is a wife and mother of three from the Orlando area. Before the birth of her third child, she was the associate editor for three lifestyle publications in central Florida. Samantha was recently named Volunteer of the Year for the JCC of Greater Orlando and is a graduate of the Bornstein Leadership Program through the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. In her spare time she enjoys visiting with family and friends, rooting for the Gators, and watching her longtime pal Mayim Bialik on The Big Bang Theory.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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