Family Time | An honest review of Jackson Heights Pre-K in Glens Falls, New York
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An honest review of Jackson Heights Pre-K in Glens Falls, New York

An honest review of Jackson Heights Pre-K in Glens Falls, New York

At Henry's graduation from It's A Kidz World

At Henry’s graduation from It’s A Kidz World

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve shopped around.

I drooled over Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs. The nature walks. The cooking. The daily tasks. It’s the ideal way to raise children, to my way of thinking — take what’s tried and true from years of child-rearing and get back to roots. But: Money. There’s a scholarship program, but we wouldn’t qualify. Driving to Saratoga twice a day would be tough as a self-employed person already feeling squeezed for time. The admissions guide we spoke with said that with the financial aid available, preference was given to those who were really going as far as they could because this was important to them — for example, parents who moved into a smaller house so they would be able to afford tuition. I seriously considered it, especially after hearing about their philosophies from my friend Sarah Bates who works there sometimes, but ultimately, not for us. Really, just money.

I have romanticized home schooling. I’ve had brief conversations with parents who are doing it, and I’ve looked up the requirements. It’s certainly more possible than I imagined. I liked the idea of a co-op, where there would be a small group of students in a “class” together, which would help with that stereotype of home schooled kids being socially weird. There’s a Facebook group called Glens Falls, NY Home Schoolers that I’ve been lurking in.

Recently I asked a fellow parent about local home schooling co-ops at Holistic Moms picnic, and they said that a lot of the co-ops around here follow a religious theme. While we are spiritual, I’m not sure that I want traditional religion to be a part of my children’s schooling. So while I’ve heard good things about St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus, I didn’t really delve into that option.

Henry and his preschool teachers Miss Heather and Miss Bobbie

Henry and his preschool teachers Miss Heather and Miss Bobbie

Henry, newly four years old, made it into the Pre-K program at Jackson Heights Elementary School here in Glens Falls, New York. It’s a lottery system, so we’re lucky to get in. For one, it’s free and it cuts down on daycare expenses (though I love his preschool/daycare It’s A Kidz World, and he still goes there two afternoons a week and Danny starts there tomorrow), and for two, it’s a real school; part of the school district!

It muddies the water a little about when the first day of school is. Seems like Pre-K is still a preparation; a half-day before Kindergarten. But nevertheless, we have been walking to Jackson Heights since we bought our house in the East End of Glens Falls, and dreaming about walking our someday child to school. And that day was last Wednesday.

Mrs. Williams greeting Henry on his first day of Pre-K. He made her a painting.

Mrs. Williams greeting Henry on his first day of Pre-K. He made her a painting.

Henry’s teacher is Mrs. Susan Williams and she is amazing. In August, we received a postcard from her at our home. Henry was delighted, and treasured it. Later in the month, she sent him a birthday card. We could tell we were going to like her. Already she had been so thoughtful.

She led a Parent’s Night and gave all of the parents apples in acknowledgement that we are our children’s teachers as well. The principal, Mrs. Mauro, was there, helping out; so hands-on and welcoming.

On Henry’s first day, Mrs. Willams handed parents a pack of tissues with a poem wrapped around them that said she knows it’s hard, but don’t worry because she’ll take care of our little one like he’s her own. That night she sent home a package of popcorn with a note that said it was to eat while we talked about his first day of school. She is using an app called Remind to allow us to text her. She has been communicative, caring, kind and thoughtful, making us feel involved. We are confident that Henry’s education is off to a fantastic start here in the wonderful little City of Glens Falls.

The tearjerker of a poem that Mrs. Williams sent home wrapped around a pack of tissues

The tearjerker of a poem that Mrs. Williams sent home wrapped around a pack of tissues

Tonight I had to choose between the Holistic Moms Network meeting on home schooling and the Jackson Heights PTA meeting. I went to the PTA, and I’m glad I did. It turns out that three Advokate clients and colleagues are on the PTA: Donnah Digan-Lewis, formerly of GG Mama’s and currently of Samantha’s Cafe and Catering, is the Co-President, and Rhianna Hogan-Cerro of SKETCH Design Lounge is Vice President, and Mindy Ryzuk, of Mindful Massage. I recognized the treasurer as the mom of one of the students I had when I led a day camp program at LARAC, and Mrs. Mauro was there as well.

 I imagined PTA being like the one from Weeds, or every other TV show with PTAs in them — competitive, catty, demanding, full of moms that weren’t like me. This one was friendly, welcoming, full of moms (and one dad) like me, and open to new ideas. One fundraiser involves the kids selling items out of a catalog, Girl Scout style, to their family members, and parents’ office mates. I asked whether any local business could offer a fund-raiser, and the answer was, “There’s no rule against it.” Of course that’ll have to be within reason and go through committees, but I thought that was interesting. Advokate might have some clients that would like to reach parents and would be willing to give a donation while they do it.
The bag of popcorn that Mrs. Williams sent home. (Vegan!)

The bag of popcorn that Mrs. Williams sent home. (Vegan!)

Also on tonight’s agenda were school picture day, a fall festival fundraiser, the bake sale in November, a talent show, membership, yearbook and damage to the basketball hoop. All interesting to me. It’s hard not to jump right in, but I have to remember that I can’t do everything. It’s lovely to be at a meeting where other people volunteer to do things. Often at meetings it ends up on me. This is a dynamic, capable group who care about their children’s school.

I was ecstatic to learn that Jackson Heights is working on plans to install a Buddy Bench, which is a place for kids to sit if they’re feeling lonely. Another idea that’s come to fruition is yoga classes during the school day for grades two and up. And at this meeting, a sketch was handed out for a new play area that will be all natural, with native plants, paths, a rock retaining wall, and a patch of flowers.
Granted, we’re only in our first full week here, but I’m over the moon for Jackson Heights. I can’t imagine a better school for my boys. I feel so lucky to have landed just exactly here.

Want to join the Jackson Heights PTA as a community member for $5 (no volunteering required)? Click here!

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