Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Get on Back to School

Lyric courtesy of Jimmy Buffet and Dan Fogelberg from Domino College

There are some things I love about living in a place like Effingham County. I love the small-town atmosphere. I love how my hair dresser knows a really good local place to get a sandwich, and how they know a really good local place to get mulch for my garden. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone looks out for everyone, in a very down home, "Hey, I brought y'all some fresh biscuits" manner.

There are also some things I don't like. The schools here are fabulous, which means everyone is moving to this area to take advantage of the cheap land and good schools (we're part of that group), but the schools aren't ready for it. Not by a long shot. So much so, that my daughter was on a waiting list three months ago for a slot in the state funded free public pre-kindergarten program, and was still number eleven on the list yesterday as school started.

To say I was in a panic would be putting it mildly.

Ray and I spent most of yesterday calling every state funded program we could find in the county, and everyone had waiting lists a mile long. I looked at churches, but most of the ones in the area that we could afford to pay for were way too conservative for us. But finally, some of those phone calls paid off.

Ray called a bunch of places listed in the local phone book. Most of the day-cares and private pre-kindergartens had been put out of work by the elementary schools getting into the pre-k business. One phone number led to a woman who used to work at a pre-school in Springfield, up the highway about ten miles or so from where we live. She just happened to have the number of a woman whose daughter was opening a brand new state funded pre-school in Old Guyton, not far from where we are. So we called the woman, who gave us her daughter's cell number, which went to voice mail, but had the number of her new pre-school listed. And we hit the jackpot. They had three slots left open.

The building isn't much to look at. It's an old county building across the street from the Guyton Volunteer Fire Department, and half a block up from the county sheriff's building in town. But the folks were nice, and the Four Year Old loved the classroom, even if they hadn't finished putting everything up yet.

And so now she has a place to belong. She's one of only six girls in two pre-kindergarten classes. Truthfully, she's probably not going to learn anything academic from her new school. She can already read, she can print simple sentences, she knows some addition and subtraction, and her multiplication tables. But she's going to learn about dealing with other kids, which makes me happy.

And all because a woman knew a woman who had a daughter with a business. I love Effingham County.


Gurnal said...

You've got to love rural life and the relationships it can strike up. I'm sure as fun loving as TFYO is she'll do just great.

It's been a while. Sorry I disappeared for a bit.

Willowtree said...

I love the name of the county where you live. Sounds like a vegetarian haven.

Dumdad said...

All's well that ends well.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I'm sure my memory is faulty or something, but I don't remember it being such a problem with schools when I was younger and now it's huge. Now it's almost like trying to get into Harvard.
We're with you. We also moved for the cheap land values and fab schools. We felt a little guilty, but now, eight years later, we're old-timers. Gotta love smaller towns.

Jen said...

You're not wrong RC, it's is more difficult, now. When I was a kid, there was none of this needing to send your kid to Pre-kindergarten stuff. You just went to kindergarten and there was a place for everyone. Now, if you don't send your kid to pre-K, you're a rotten parent. Truthfully, private pre-K is expensive, which is why the state funded ones are such a blessing. *sigh* Sometimes, I wish it were easier...

Anonymous said...

Both my kids attended church-based pre-schools (they might have been a bit conservative for you, but I'm not sure) and had to be put on waiting lists even back then, but we didn't have much of a problem getting them in anyway.

The state funded schools, as you mentioned, tend to put the private ones right outta business...except for the very expensive ones only rich people can afford - and that's why I'm not particularly in favor of them.

I know I'm out of the loop here, and a bit loopy besides, but when the government gets involved in stuff like this, things just get screwed up. Best to let the private sector run things with healthy competition encouraging them to do a the best job they can, and then allow generous Americans the chance to sponsor, on their own or through their church or community group, kids from families who can't afford the cost themselves.

Okay, I'll get off my soap box now. Sorry. Interesting post! And no, I'm not criticizing you. ;-)

Mya said...

Hi Jen,

So glad TFYO got in somewhere. You just wait, she'll be bringing home all sorts of interesting and new stuff to entertain you with!
I too love the name Effingham County - sounds like something from an English Carry On film!

Mya x

Jen said...

jrh , I know you're not criticizing me. TFYO went to a Mother's Day out program run by the Methodists a couple of years ago, and I was very comfortable with it. So, I naturally looked for a Methodist church for pre-k. The one locally that offered it were very hung up on "creationism" and teaching the "true word of God" to the four-year-olds. Bit much for me. I am firmly agnostic, I personally have some issues with The Apostle Paul. It's just me. As for the government run pre-K, they are teaching to the current state curriculum, which is fine, and it's free, which is also fine. Again, our little one doesn't need the academic schooling so much as the social schooling. If it weren't for that, she wouldn't be going!

As for the comments on "Effingham County", we made the same jokes too. It was created in 1777, and named after a Lord Effingham, who who resigned from the British Army in order to fight for the Americans.