My husband and I are products of public education. But as we started our search on where to send our daughter to school, we felt we needed to pursue private education. I am from Chattanooga and my husband a transplant so I knew all the private schools and which ones I preferred, but he wanted to do his due diligence and research…them all! My sweetie is an engineer and let me tell ya, we have recently searched for weeks running back and forth between stores for a TV. So yes, I got my mind ready for an exhaustive search!
Our first trip was to The Bright School (Bright). Long story short, after 15 minutes at Bright, my husband whispers, “This is the place for us. Let’s cancel the other tours.” Bright was already number one on my list so I was game! Two years later we are now wrapping up our first year in the “private school world” and let me tell you, it was definitely NOT what we expected. It was BEYOND!
So let me be honest here: Team Rodriguez is not in the 1% Bernie Sanders talks about! We are not the “ultra wealthy” – financially! We are ultra wealthy with love though!!! Seriously you all, I gotta be real here! We have one income and knew that we were making a serious financial commitment (sacrifice?) and in turn, we hoped to get stellar results. We are no different than other parents out there who swear they are raising a baby genius! We were not sure what to expect but hoped to see our daughter excell. We could have easily kept her home or in preschool, but our family believes in education first and if we could get her started early then we were all for it.
Before school even started we knew we had made the right decision. The school hosts two playdates during the registration process that occur during the school day. New students and parents are able to experience a day in the life of a Bright student. The school is observing the children and the parents are observing the school. This was new to me but was very helpful. When school started it was not a new, scary place for our daughter. She let go of my hand and walked right in…I nearly fainted. No tears. No fights. No sad faces. She felt as comfortable as we did. Any mom having to drop her child off knows what a stress reliever that is!
Fast forward and we are at the end of the year. Was our investment worth it? What stood out? Was it worth the time and the energy? Did we fit in?
It was definitely worth it! You might be surprised to read that our appreciation had nothing to do with education. Don’t get me wrong, we got tons of education at Bright but it was “the other stuff” that made our investment so valuable.
Small Classroom Size: Obviously, we appreciated the small classroom size and student to teacher ratio – there were ten students and two teachers in my daughter’s classroom – but here is why. I was able to get constant feedback on her progress. The added bonus was her teachers’ ability to work with us to implement improvement plans AND adjust them as we moved through the year. I enjoyed being able to work with the teachers so intimately.
Community: A small classroom size allows for a more close-knit school community overall. We appreciated the fact that parent involvement/interaction is not a requirement but is embraced by everyone. It is displayed by the administration first. What we observed is the headmaster being regularly involved in student activities. Every morning and afternoon the administration, headmaster included, is outside opening car doors loading and unloading students yelling good morning/afternoon. You feel so welcomed that you want to get involved and be a part of the Bright community.
There were many opportunities for parents and students to get to know each other as well. I loved being able to call classroom parents to discuss upcoming events or to grab coffee. But I also enjoyed feeling comfortable calling parents from higher grades as I was finding my way.
Not only are the parents building a network with each other and the administration/faculty, but the students are as well – from running the book store to routing the mail. But the best example, and my husband’s favorite, is the 5th grade/Kindergarten partnerships. Older students caring for the younger! It’s character building, reduces the occurrence of bullying, develops role models, and much more. We ran into an older student running the book store who saw our baby girl. She started calculating their grades to see if they’d have a chance at being partners. How lovely was that!
Exposure: You know how some stores have the basics of what you need? And then there is Target. (I love me some Target, y’all!) When you go to Target it is because you want that “it factor” item. That was my experience with Bright. For instance, I loved how the Jr. Pre-K students were not solely with their primary teachers because even at their young age, they changed classes!!! They move through one of six special areas like Spanish, library and music everyday. As she moves into higher grades, woodshop and art will be added to her curriculum. And physical education is a daily activity throughout her years at Bright.
It was AH-MAZING to see how the staff exposed the children to a plethora of experiences while safely immersing them in their education. The teachers were not just reading or telling the children stories but provided hands-on learning as well. One example of that, which is also one of my favorite things to hear my daughter talk about, was learning about the life cycle of a butterfly. It was a proud moment for us as she explained to her grandparents what metamorphosis was! Not only did she read about butterflies but they had cages in the classroom where they saw the life cycle take place. She still reminds us that she really enjoyed feeding the butterflies.
Cost and Comfort: As you can see, I enjoy talking about our experiences in private school. And it’s true, these experiences come with a cost…and that added concern that you are the only one clipping coupons to cover it. But honestly, for us, the decision to sacrifice for her education has paid dividends already. And regarding acceptance, I am a firm believer that time and money have their place. Team Rodriguez lives a nicely budgeted lifestyle and we decided that our primary investment to the school would be our time. And contrary to what you may think, it was greatly appreciated. Financially, we supported where we could. But the staff never made us feel like whatever gift we gave was not enough. What they did do was make sure we knew that being present was welcomed, extremely helpful, and very much appreciated.
Our private school experience has been absolutely wonderful. They say it takes a community to raise a child and we found it in The Bright School which was the perfect choice for us. Our daughter is growing and excelling and we are finding our groove. As you are searching for a school community for your family remember to look beyond the academics and look for the whole life offerings. You can’t go wrong with a well-rounded genius!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and is 100% my opinion and experience at The Bright School.