Thursday, September 11, 2008

New School Year/New School Home

These last two weeks have been hard. Loverman has taken on a second gig and we’re all adjusting to his new schedule. The kids don’t go back to school until September 15 because we’re moving into a new building and due to the construction schedule the school didn’t receive its certificate of occupancy until September 1st. It got so hectic with trying to get childcare, I decided to simply use some of my vacation time and stay home with the kids for the remainder of the week. I’ve been home with them since Tuesday.

We had an opportunity to tour the new facility earlier this evening. I couldn’t wait to see it because the building we’re moving into was once Durham Elementary and both my mom and her older sister attended Durham when they were children. It’s fabulous! Bright colors, big windows that open, and a new cafeteria with our own chef Gus to cook wholesome, fresh food for our kids, it’s more than I could ever imagine.

Located at 1600 Lombard Street in Center City, this building is 100% better than where we were. It’s a charter school founded 8 years ago and since its inception, it’s been housed in a building originally used as office space. In fact, the building is the designated FEMA headquarters for Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. So, the students were safe from hurricanes or a terrorist or nuclear attack, but there were numerous challenges not conducive for growing children. The windows didn’t open, the HVAC system was suspect and there was no dedicated outdoor space just for the school’s students. For recess activities, the school used Washington Square, a short walk from the school and an historic landmark that was once a burial ground during colonial times. It worked for a while and the administrators and teachers made the best out of a difficult situation, but with the school’s rapid growth, it reminded me of the old lady who lived in a shoe… We had simply outgrown our original home.

I recently rotated off the school’s board, but during my two-year tenure, most of the board’s energy had been consumed with deciding whether or not to move. For me, this wasn’t really a difficult decision, if we had the resources to move to a more appropriate space, and a detailed plan to execute the move, then I was all for it. In fact, I was surprised that there were even parents who opposed the move. But, for many families the school’s space challenge was trumped by its location right smack in the middle of city’s Independence Mall. The building was less than a block away from the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross' House, Carpenters' Hall and the new National Constitution Center. Our new home is a whopping nine blocks from this cradle of America’s birthplace. But, what we may have loss in immediate access to historical hotspots, we’ve gained in spades with a facility designed to meet the needs of a progressive learning environment.

Acquiring, rehabbing and preparing the school for Monday’s opening have done wonders in reinforcing the school’s sense of community. A parent of a student in Olivia’s class is an architect and the school hired her to oversee the entire project. Another parent has a moving company and the school hired him to move us from one building to the other. Every step of the way the school’s board and administration did their very best to ensure that as many voices as possible were at the table to create this dynamic space. A group of parents even worked together with the school’s principal to secure a KaBoom grant and later next month, the school’s community will join employees of IBM and SAP to build a world-class playground, one of the numerous wish-list items we wouldn’t have been able to fulfill without additional financial support.

Walking through the school’s hall this evening, I was overwhelmed by the intangible benefits the school and its students will reap from its new location. It’s almost like we’ve walked into our first home, with all the pride and pregnant anticipation that comes with home ownership.


rebecca said...

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox


and which

you were probably


for breakfast


Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

-----------bymaple story account


Yolanda said...

How wonderful- hope they have a fantastic first year in their new school

Mango Mama said...

Hi Yolanda, Checked out your blog---- love it! Thanks for visiting and be sure to visit again soon.