The Turbulent Road of Schooling

I had no idea when we had kids that schooling would be the most turbulent and gut wrenching experience that it’s been.

I spent the majority of my 12 years of school with the same 200 people. I rode the bus or my bike to school, didn’t doubt my safety, didn’t have to apply to or lottery into the school in my neighborhood, I just got to attend it. I didn’t doubt that I was in good hands with my teachers (maybe my parents did but I didn’t). I never had to switch schools and it all felt very stable. And I certainly didn’t have emergency drills in school for what to do if there was an active shooter in the building. It’s safe to say that the world I grew up in no longer exists. I also grew up in rural America and now we’re raising kids in Urban America so that too plays into our current reality.

In the course of our daughters life (she’s 8)  she has moved classes or schools 4 times. She is amazingly flexible and has always adapted well. She makes friends easily and has been able to do well wherever she is. I’m so grateful  for how God made her, brave, determined, and mature beyond her years. It’s helped her through all these transitions. However, this is not the way I pictured school life for my children. It’s been heartbreaking at many turns for us in the education system.

Here were our “options”: 1) The k-8 public school next door that we have no preference to get into, pay taxes for and operates like a private school that you have to lottery to get into. 2) The public “neighborhood school” (that’s not actually in our neighborhood) that we attended for a few years and loved for many reasons but is under staffed, under resourced and where kids at the lower and higher ends of the spectrum get left behind. 3) The amazing private schools around the city that we just can’t afford, but have had the privilege of attending one for a short stint thanks to financial aid.

Last week we were notified by the school next door that there was now a spot for Jenna in the 4th grade. This school for many reasons has become my Nineveh. We’ve applied for the lottery every year and petitioned once, only to be denied. The system is unfair and broken. I’ve had negative interactions on multiply occasions and had given up hope that we would attend the school next door. We have been so happy at our current school and NOW there’s the option to be next door. It just seemed wrong and crazy to move again in the middle of a school year. Not to mention, now I was being asked to move past my frustrations and anger and enter into the school that I think is privileged and has denied our petitions when it made the most sense to attend. It makes me feel like I’m becoming a part of the problem and not the solution at this point to attend there. How could I trust this was from the Lord? How could I ask my daughter to move yet again?

Every good parent wants what’s best for their kids. We want stability and the option for great education for our kids. Unfortunately those have not gone hand in hand for our family.

So today Jenna transitioned once again to a new school. It was an agonizing decision process. The 90 feet to walk next door into that school has ironically taken 4 years. I know that God has a plan but I also know this is not how I would have gone about it. His timing is never my timing. Crazy how that works.

Our family has always had the mission to be a blessing to those around us and now we are being asked to do that next door. My high justice, right and wrong, high-control self is struggling here. Who knew my kids schooling would be such a faith walk for me?

I’m convinced that God is preparing Jenna to do something great in her future as a result of all of her school experiences. God never wastes anything, not the joys the sorrows, the twists or the turns. And for me, well I think God just continues to pry the grip off of the control I really want to have, especially when it comes to my kids. He’s asking me to love the hard places, the place that has kept us on the outside and denied us entry for so long. I’m going to my “Nineveh” and trusting God to meet us there.

jenna 4th grade school

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