February 28, 2005

school news

That brand new charter school? Damian got in. We found out Saturday. Big question: will they be able to provide special ed support (occupational therapy, speech therapy, possible aide in the classroom). A very big question indeed because last year when I was frantically searching for a tolerable kindergarten placement, the head of the progressive charter school I sort of liked told me that they might not be able to provide for his need and then avoided my phone calls as assiduously as a studio executive might avoid a fired-but-doesn't-know-it screenwriter's calls.

So tonight I went to an open house for the school, a chance to ask questions directly to the brand new principal and the founding educator (the woman who has done the most to shape the concept behind the school). I asked each of them the same question: how much ability do you have financial and otherwise to support kids with special needs? I liked their answers, which boiled down to: we don't know the particulars yet, but whatever another school can do, we can do. And they both said they'd know more in a few weeks and we could sit down and talk then. Works for me.

As I was entering the small building (a guesthouse-turned-intimate-theater, a wonderfully rococo relic from Old Hollywood), I gave my name to the woman at the table. The man in front of me turned around. "Tamar? I'm Paul!" (Not his real name.) He reminded me where we'd known each other. I think I can be forgiven for forgetting: when I knew him he was still in college and I'd just barely graduated myself. We worked together on my very first editing job in New York. Now we're middle aged, with kids who may be going to the same school next year. He's still in editing; episodic drama, just like Dan. (He remembered Dan from New York too.)

As I stood in the middle of the room, trying to get my bearings and chatting with Paul, a woman leaned forward to look at my nametag. "Tamar? Are you Dan's wife?" She worked with Dan seven years ago, they were both editing on a short-lived TV series and I was pregnant with Damian. Her oldest child is a year younger than Damian and also in kindergarten. It looks like she and her husband are taking the plunge, pulling their son out of private school and trying this new charter school out. Our kids might end up in the same class.

Then, as we were chatting, a man came up. Started talking editing shop with the woman. She introduced me, mentioned Dan. The guy looked at me. "I think I met you. A long time ago." Dan had just gotten bumped up to editor and was interviewing potential assistants. This man came to our apartment for an interview. He ended up getting another gig before Dan had made a decision and so backed out. Now he too is a TV drama editor. His eldest daughter is going to a local Jewish day school. Which school? Oh, the one affiliated with Damian's first preschool experience, before his diagnosis. He and his wife will probably pull her out, send her to this charter school too.

Much later, as I walked out of the building, after hugging the founding parent who is a friend of a friend (and who works on the same show Dan does, though as a writer)(and who went to the same college I did), I chatted with a woman who's deciding whether to send her son to the charter school. She's from New York. She spoke about attitude and decision making and I liked her a lot. Turns out? Her son is in a preschool nearby. Which one? The second one Damian attended, the local one that I pulled him out of after six months because I didn't think they were doing him much good. She gave me the lowdown on the place: apparently it's vastly improved since that year, which sounds like it was the nadir for that school. Good to hear. Also another interweaving of life paths. I didn't ask her if she too was in TV dramatic editing. The coincidence would have been too much for my brain to handle.

All these people were choosing, not between their local public school and this charter school, but between this one and private schools. Progressive, nurturing places, all. The kinds of places I might have chosen for Damian if I'd had that option. Besides wondering how they can all afford $15K a year, I find myself thinking that this speaks well for the place. If people who run from public schools are willing to come back for this one, it bodes well. (And I know they're doing outreach in the poorer communities too, so there will be some ethnic, cultural and economic diversity. Maybe not as much as they'd like at first, but there will be some. And this too is good.)

If we end up in New York (New Jersey) before fall, I'd be a little sad to not experience the place, but the move would have its own plentiful rewards, including, I suspect, an excellent school situation there.

If we stay in Los Angeles for any amount of time, one year or two or ten, Damian will attend this school. It will be very good for him and I now think it will be very good indeed for me too. A sense of community finally in this alien sprawl of a city.

I like this. I like having good options, for a change.

Posted by Tamar at February 28, 2005 11:25 PM | TrackBack

I'm thrilled for your whole family. I had a feeling you'd like the charter people. :-) Have you noticed how many areas of your life are currently being rewarded for the hard work you've done over the last few years? Child. Writing. House. Wow. Is there anything more exciting than seeds sprouting? (I tried to write "when a (blank) comes together but your spamware wouldn't me write plan and comes in succession. In retaliation for the trite censor, I used seeds sprouting. So there.:-)

Posted by: Michele at March 1, 2005 09:53 AM

Congratulations on getting into the charter school! You're right - good options are great.

Posted by: Donna at March 1, 2005 03:13 PM
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