Thursday, August 30, 2012
First Day of School--Take Two
What a wonderful day!! I awoke to the sun shining, the birds singing. (The sun always shines here. The birds always sing. But today, I savored it!) Tuesday, the sun was a glaring wake-up call, burning my retinas behind droopy lids. Today, glorious rays of light shone through my window; caressing my cheek, warming my soul. Tuesday, the birds' chatter was a nuisance; today, a lovely melody just for me!
Pretty dramatic stuff, huh? Ok, I didn't actually wake up in a magical wonderland created for the sole purpose of bringing me joy after a rough couple of days. But, I did awaken with a brighter outlook. The point is, the surroundings, and most of the challenges that face our family, have not changed, but one thing DID change--my attitude. It began to change yesterday (Wednesday). Yesterday, the washer broke while washing my ONE set of sheets (have you ever tried to rinse and wring out queen sized sheets?), the bathroom flooded, the dishwasher drained on the floor, Tom and I were thwarted in accomplishing a necessary task, etc., etc. Nothing seemed to go right. But, all in all, it was a good day. I felt happy. Why, you ask?!
I wish I could report that I was mature enough and insightful enough to realize that my happiness was a state of mind, not dependant on outward conditions. I wish I could say that. But, in all honesty, I cannot. I mentioned earlier that "most of the challenges that face our family have not changed"... This is true--we still have a lot of adjusting to do, a lot of growth to experience. But... one BIG challenge that faced me has changed--school.
We had thought it impossible for our children to attend school here. For one thing, the city isn't big enough to support an international school. Secondly, it is winter here right now. That means that it is the middle of the school year. By the time we leave, it will be the middle of the next school year. What grade would we put our kids in? What grade would they finish in? What instruction would they get in English literature and spelling?
And then a beautiful thing happened--we found out about an English/Portuguese elementary school here in the city. I was still doubtful. How would they transition the kids in the middle of the year, and where would they go next year when we get back to the States? Would they be able to meet the core requirements for Utah so our children wouldn't be lagging drastically behind their peers? I didn't even think it was worth a shot; but after Tuesday (see my previous pity party post), Tom decided to make an appointment with the administrators.
We went in a little skeptical, but the teacher seemed very competent. She and the administrators felt confidant they could provide a quality education for our children; working within our unique circumstances. It is a small school which will eventually go up to the 5th grade (Jaden's grade), but which can't support that right now. However, the head teacher is creating a customized plan for Jaden, as well as adding some curriculum for Tessa that is required in Utah, which they don't currently teach here at her grade level. Jaden will be individually tutored in the morning in math, language arts, and Portuguese. He will then join the younger class for art, history, etc.
In the morning, the instruction for the whole school is given in Portuguese; in the afternoon, English. All of the children and teachers speak English. They learn about different cultures that speak English, as well as about the Brazilian culture. Tom and I felt really good about the school, and the chance for the kids to have an immersive experience. We enrolled them.
Today was their first day. Keira has been sick, so she did not attend. Jaden and Tessa were very excited to go! We went inside with them to drop them off. The local kids were all very curious about the new students. ( blond hair/blue eyes?) The teacher thought they would be excited to practice their English on native English speakers. I was a little hesitant to leave. How would my babies do in this foreign environment?
Here are pictures in front of the school and with their teacher:
I had no need to worry. They came home excited. School was "AWESOME!" They met new friends. Everyone wanted to partner with them. And-- no complaints from Jaden about feeling like he was in a "baby" class. In fact, he seemed to be the leader of the pack--this could be really good for him!
They will wear a uniform (a T-shirt with the school's logo on it) which we ordered. The school is tiny. Only about 70 students. The building and grounds small, but adequate. The supplies somewhat limited in my estimation (I'm going to see what we can do about that--stay tuned).
What kind of education will they get? I don't know if the school will be able to deliver on their promises. But, they weren't going to get a very good education with me at the helm, splitting my time between the 4 grades; no clue how to deliver the content. And in the end, I don't think it will really matter. We can always catch up on English and science, but the education they are receiving merely by being immersed in a different culture, experiencing things that most of their peers will never experience, is priceless to me.
Just to let you know--Marissa is continuing with the online school. This is her first year of high school and she needs to get the appropriate credits. Today was a much better day; we finally are ironing out some of the creases, and she is getting the knack of this nontraditional school. Thank heavens she is a good student! We are looking into a dance class for her, and there are a lot of activities for youth in our church that she has begun to get involved in. She has a friend here in the neighborhood (Erika), and just made another friend tonight who speaks a little English. We will continue to look for opportunities to help her immerse.
The clouds are parting again. (I know they will be back.) But, today was sunny. The birds' song was music to my ears. I can go on another day...