|Hard to get them all to smile at the same time!!|
We were very optimistic about school, pleased to have them in what we thought was the best possible place for each, uniforms and school supplies ready to go. Then came Monday! With a new principal came new procedures for dropping off and picking up kids at Annie and Chip's school. Of course the first day did not go smoothly, as school staff was not yet coordinated and parents were frustrated.
Then it was over to the high school to collect Marquel. Another new place with new procedures, not sure where to go to - resulting in more frustration. The phone call we got went something like this, "I withdrew them all from school!".
With the frustration and overwhelm so high, there was no use in arguing, we just said we would drive over Tuesday morning and help him get it sorted out.
After dropping Charlie off at school Tuesday morning, we made the 45 minute trek across town to find that emotions were still running very high. He was determined to find different schools, and come up with excuses like "there are pregnant girls all over that high school" and "one of Marquel's classes is all boys - that's just not right" and "there was a huge fight and police swarming all over the place" (which was denied by high school personnel).
Starting last spring we had talked to Mr. Thornton and Marquel about a different high school, hoping she would choose one with higher educational ratings and smaller classes. But Mr. Thornton could not get past the transportation issue, and would not even consider letting her take the bus, as the other students do. He was insistent that she go to the closest high school (about 6 blocks from their house), and even asked if I thought it would be okay to transfer Chip and Annie to an elementary school and middle school located en route to the high school. I said I did not think it was a good idea to change their school, that it was a good school and they needed the stability. In the back of my mind I was thinking to myself, "if that is what you want to do, go ahead, but I don't approve so I am not going to do it for you!"
So the first day of school with new procedures and the frustration that came with them was all the excuse he needed to change schools. We knew that if we insisted that he leave things alone and let the new procedures work themselves out, he would not be able to let go of the frustration and it would only lead to more conflict with the schools as time went on.
We spent Tuesday filling out withdrawal forms and applications to new schools. Chip is now enrolled in W. W. White Elementary School. He says he likes his new teacher. Annie and Marquel are enrolled in Southwest Preparatory School. It is a small charter school, dedicated to helping teens prepare for college. They are able to earn college credits and scholarships. They will be starting a new sports program, which was a plus because the girls love their sports. We feel it will be a good school for both girls. Luckily, Annie will be required to wear khaki pants, and Marquel will be allowed to wear clothes of her choice, although she was upset that she could not wear casual t-shirts! We will have to get her some appropriate tops. And we were even able to get some speech therapy lined up for Annie, something we had been asking for for several years at her prior school.
We cannot discount the affect that Hurricane Isaac had on the events of this week. Post Traumatic Stress never goes away, those affected can develop coping skills, but the emotions are never far under the surface and can cause what we might consider erratic behavior. Charlie was very concerned, but getting teachers involved and getting out a map to show him how far away it was from us seemed to help. Hopefully it will help alleviate his fears with future storms.
This week Randy and I watched a couple shows about Hurricane Katrina. One was a documentary made about 4 months following the storm. It reminded us of all the emotions and frustrations that the people went through. Mr. Thornton was not the only one to hear comments like "go home and call 211 for assistance" (he had no home and no phone) or "show me your identification and we'll make you a new ID card" (would I need a new ID card if I already had one?) or the repeated visits and hours on the phone to FEMA - only to find out the paperwork had been lost - AGAIN!
While we hope the new schools work out well, we cringe at the thought of the added trauma for the kids. We are glad that Charlie is able to live with us and have the stability he desperately needs. Thanks to his awesome teachers, his first week of school went well, which is a milestone in itself. Usually the first week is tough, getting back into a routine with friends, classes and teachers.
Keep the kids in your prayers that they will all blossom and grow this school year.
Until next time. . .