25 September 2008

School days

My pre-school days and school days kind of all run together since I don't really have a good separating point. I remember the summer before I was going to start Kindergarten because I had to get shots, for one thing, but I also remember going with my mom to the school I was going to attend, Richpond, to pick up papers of some sort I suppose. I don't remember much about that trip except that the school seemed enormous (it's not... I've been back since then). Before school started, though, and I'm not really sure when or why it all came about, my parents thought better of sending me to public school. I vaguely remember them discussing the possibility of homeschooling, but hey, I was 5 years old... I wasn't really concerned. The shots were over, I got to go shopping afterward, life was grand.

Anyway, my folks kept me out of public school and homeschooled me themselves that year... and for the next 4-and-a-half-ish years. That's why I don't really have a good separating point on before school and after school, since there weren't any huge changes in my life. The first year my folks pretty much built their own curriculum out of stuff they found at the Parent Teacher Store. After Kindergarten, they began using the A Beka Book curriculum, which worked out quite well for me.

My memories of the whole homeschool situation involve no hard-and-fast start or stop time, popcorn during classes, and breaks whenever the phone rang or my granddad stopped in for a visit. Other memories involve knowing without a doubt that school was going to happen every day, no questions asked (except for planned breaks and holidays), that what was supposed to be covered in a day would be covered in a day without fail, and that my mother had very high standards and goals that she expected me to meet... period. If the curriculum said we were supposed to find the Virgin Islands on a particular map, we would find them on that map... no other map would suffice. If the curriculum said we should go over every single multiplication table 14 times a day, we did (ok, it was never really 14...). I only remember one occasion when I was sick and was not permitted a "sick day" until I literally nodded off with my head on the table (Benadryl will do that to ya). I don't want to make my mom out to be cruel or anything along those lines, but she was definitely a driving force in my academic successes and every success I've had since those homeschool days is due in part to her great influence (and stubbornness... hehe).

In 1996, Old Union School opened. I was going to be starting 5th grade and was (supposedly) old enough to make my own decision, so my parents left it completely up to me as to whether I wanted to go there or keep homeschooling. My folks (my dad especially) were avid supporters of the school and my dad was one of the few who helped it get started, even serving as the school board's chairman for a few years. There were 5 students starting out, 3 girls near my age (2 of whom I knew from church, 1 of whom I had at least heard of from a sister church), and a boy and a girl who were younger (who I also knew from church). The 2 teachers were women who had been my Sunday School and/or VBS teachers and I had known both of them since I was born. I decided to continue homeschooling. I don't really remember much about my decision... I do remember that my mom had some questions and some uneasy feelings about me switching to OUS, although I don't recall anything specific now.

So, we started another year of homeschooling and went until October, when I decided that I wanted to go to OUS after all. My first day there was Halloween, October 31, 1996. I was 11 and I made the 6th student. As it turns out, my not-so-sure-about-this start would turn into the next 7 years of my life... and I graduated from Old Union in 2004, in a class of 2... I was the valedictorian, in case you were wondering.

I had a lot of good days at OUS, but unfortunately in some ways the bad outweighed the good, and my overall memory of my time spent there has a dark cloud over it. At this time, the school is a completely different place than it was when I was there, but I'm afraid some of the things which were such a frustration to me and my family while I was there still persist. I support the school's mission and I think the one-to-one teaching that they're able to have there is great. David and I support and will continue to support the school, but I doubt our children will ever be students there. This isn't written in stone and I know that it very well could end up happening, but as of right now, I can't see ever feeling totally comfortable with sending them there. Our children will most likely be homeschooled.