In many of my groups of friends, I’m the girl that steps in and says, “I’m just saying there are great things happening in public schools.” To be clear, there is no perfect school. There are always going to be issues that arise. A school is typically trying to meet the needs of 600 or more students. It cannot be done perfectly every day. Lafayette has some amazing public schools. Wonderful programs, like French Immersion, STEM academies, arts academy, and health academy are just a few of them. When we were preparing for our baby to start kindergarten, we knew public school was going to be our favorite option. I am a public school teacher, and I knew that there was no better education in Lafayette than my school. Next year, my girl will be in second grade, and is thriving.
After two years, I can still confidently say that public schools are the place for our children.
The enrichment programs offered.
My girl qualified for the Lafayette Parish gifted test over the summer after kindergarten. We were happy that she was doing so well in school, but also nervous about her being bored, etc. After a year in gifted enrichment, I know we made the right choice in putting her in an enrichment program. She gets pulled out with a small group once a week to do different activities, to help mold her gifted thinking. It’s been absolutely amazing.
The RTI programs.
RTI stands for “Response to Interventions.” Some children need more help, some children need less help, some children need enrichment, some children need an extra few minutes to practice new concepts. In our RTI block, we spend 30 minutes every day, making our classes as small as possible, grouping kids by ability, and meeting their needs. So, we have three tutors, and one enrichment teacher, in addition to homeroom teachers, come in and meet needs. It’s a beautiful thing.
The schools geared towards different interests.
Schools like STEM Academy, focus on math and science. The kids still receive normal reading, etc, but also various electives are offered allowing the children to do what they love for part of the day. There are also school focused on a future in health care, accounting, journalism, art, theatre, etc. I love that there are so many options available to students in our district.
One of the best things about my school is it is an English as a second language school. We have students from all over the world, some of them speaking no English when they arrive. We have teachers trained to teach English as a second language, help them adapt to American, etc. The great thing about this, is there is a huge amount of diversity in each classroom. In any given class, there might be 20 students, 10 of which are from a different country, have a different religion, or speak a different language. My girl is introduced to kids that are very different from her, and with that introduction comes a tremendous amount of understanding and acceptance.
In addition to people from all over the world attending public schools, there are also a number of different socioeconomic statuses in a public school.
Not everyone has the newest Nikes, name brand clothes, and new uniforms. I am glad my daughter realizes this at a young age. She isn’t growing up in a bubble, but rather looking for ways she can help.
This one should honestly be the first thing on my list. Teachers in Lafayette Parish are held to an extremely high standard. My girl has had some phenomenal teachers over the years. Teachers that love her, fuss at her, praise and encourage her, push her to be better, and teach her “Everything she knows.” (Her words, not mine.) These teachers work long hours, keep up with new technology, and come up with creative ways to keep kids engaged in their learning.
I encourage you to swing by a public school for a visit. I promise you, great things are happening.