Not your typical Kindergarten journey…

28 08 2013

I remember when we first moved to Chicago, the twins were 16 months and I wondered where they would end up going to school when the time came.  We lived in Albany Park and I assumed we may still be in that area, so they’d go to one of those elementary schools.  After a very winding path, we ended up in Woodlawn and in the middle of the school closures.  The boys attended a school at the end of our block for Pre-K and we thought we’d keep them there for Kindergarten too (so convenient!)  The school was shared with a Middle/High School Charter run by the nearby University of Chicago.  When the list of potential school closures came out, there were two in our community that were closed.  It was decided, upon much community protest, that the Elementary school would move and “take over” one of the closing schools.  Without going into too much detail on the drama, it ended up being very difficult and detrimental to our neighborhood.  The charter took over the building and the elementary is now in a new building 4 blocks away.

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(Old Wadsworth school building- large, lots of green space, away from the streets, and 3 playgrounds)

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(New Wadsworth building- taking over closing Dumas school- smaller, broken playground, no green space, near two busy streets)

And in the midst of these huge changes, we also had our Principal announce early retirement.  I joined the Local School Counsel (equivalent of PTA), attended countless meetings, protests, etc.  Put 110% into making the transition as positive as it could be.  But at the end of the day, knowing their class would be over 30 students to 1 teacher, resources would be very limited, they’d be dealing with merging two schools together, a new Principal, no playground… we decided to look into other options.  *I do want to note here that a lot of positives came from this as well.  I was able to connect with a lot of neighbors over this cause, find a great deal of personal purpose and connection rallying around this, and form lasting relationships with neighbors that continue on!

At the urging of some neighbors and their former Principal, we checked out another public school abt 5 blocks from our house.  It’s a smaller school, but does quite well academically, and is more selective with its enrollment.  The boys went in for an interview and were accepted.  The school’s Principal is from Ghana and incorporates a lot of African traditions into the school, which includes a drum circle with the whole school each morning and reciting values.  It has a much smaller, family feel and students seem to be thriving there.

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This is the playground at their new school.  To orient them to the area, we played there often this summer.

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Malachi practicing his balance skills

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I’ve done a terrible job of documenting the boys this summer and the benefit has been whenever I get out my camera, Kingston is more than happy to pose and smile for the camera!

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The twins are looking so tall these days!!  The had their check-ups for school a few weeks ago (didn’t cry for their shot!) and both are in the 45-50th percentile for weight and height.  Same as they’ve always been.

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One of their biggest accomplishments for summer was learning the monkey bars.  Lincoln is currently working on skipping a bar.  His arms aren’t quite long enough yet 🙂

So this brings us to this week!  We had originally wanted the boys to be in the same class.  Being in a new school in daunting and being one of the only biracial children in the school can be intimidating.  They were very independent in Pre-K and made their own friends easily, so we thought Kindergarten would be the same.  The school’s policy is to separate twins and they said they would consider putting them together if it became a problem.  They were both scared to be separated, as were we.  But we talked a prayed about it quite a lot before school started.  Malachi seemed to be most resistant to it.   He prayed (on his own) the night before school that he would be excited.

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And you can see God answered his prayer!  He went into his classroom without fear and had a great first day!

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LIncoln also had a great first day, though when we left him in his class, he was fighting back tears.  And so was I.   He told me later that he prayed to be brave, and God answered his prayer as well.  I love seeing through these examples of how God answers both big (our prayer of which school to send them to) and small (their prayers for excitement and bravery).

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Here they are waiting with their class for the morning ritual to begin. I should also note that little brother has had quite a hard time leaving them every morning.  He wants to stay in school with them.  However, I’ve been really enjoying time with just one child at home 🙂

On their second day of class, both teachers said they had great days and both boys said they made new friends.  Thankfully they get to still each lunch together and play at recess.  AND, a huge positive for me is that both are in small classes of 16-20 students each!

I’m going to attempt to keep up with this blog better this year.  Next post will highlight my adventures with Kings!

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4 responses

28 08 2013
jody

Thanks for sharing – I’ve been wondering how the whole process went! Glad to hear!!!

28 08 2013
Celena

Oh my!! Thank you for sharing! I promise I was planning to call you Monday and today and have been sooo super busy!! I’m glad all is going well. How exciting!! By being separated they will know every student in kindergarten! LOL I see popularity on the horizon. LOL Talk to you soon. xo

28 08 2013
roxywiley

Nice account of your school journey.. They look so excited. It is hard enough to send one off to school, much less two! Well done.

29 08 2013
Angela Mellema

Oh my, I can’t believe they can do monkey bars :), or that they’re in kindergarten, or that they’re in separate classes. I’m glad that the first week seems to be going well, I had tears in my eyes reading through your journey. Thanks so much for sharing!

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