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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Open Thread (So How Was the First Day of School?)

Open thread time and I thought I 'd ask how the first day of school was at your house.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

My oldest started kindergarten at Coe today. I thought I would be very teary-eyed but she was so excited it just didn't happen. When I picked her up she said "what are you doing here, it can't be time yet". So, that is success to me!

One glitch as Transportation thought she was supposed to be on the bus even though we called and said she wouldn't be, all sorted out now.

The energy level was amazing, everyone so positive.

Beth Bakeman said...

My youngest (Audrey) started Kindergarten at Pathfinder today and had a great first day thanks to her gifted teacher (Kelly) and wonderful support staff.

My oldest (Emma and Claire) returned to their same fabulous teachers in the Frog and Spider clans. One of the many benefits of a mixed grade classroom is that the kids get the same teacher for two years straight, allowing them to build good relationships and have teachers who already know their learning styles, strengths and weaknesses.

Christina said...

My only started Kindergarten at Sacajawea today and I was a little teary-eyed. He was very happy and immediately comfortable in his new surroundings, wearing his nametag, and reading a book while sharing it with other classmates.

Anonymous said...

My child is second on the Eckstein Wait list. We have waited all summer, hoping there would be some movement, but there hasn't been. They tell us they won't know if there is any space for another week or two. I wish there was a system in place to move the wait list before school started. Moving a child after school starts can be so disruptive. That is....if we get to move at all.

Anonymous said...

Anon above-
The problem is that they can't move a waitlist until other students don't show up.

Anonymous said...

My oldest had his first day at a new school today. It went very well. A kid from his class came up to me (2nd grade) and said, "I am __________. Me and (my son) are friends now. Can (my son) come over for a playdate today?" The energy in the whole school was very positive. Great first day....

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm really glad to hear so many positive first days (especially for kindergarteners). It's a fun and somewhat sad time to watch your child go off. But they end up taking so much pride in learning to navigate the "big" school and checking out books at "their" library.

One piece of (unsolicited) advice for parents; do your part in elementary but don't let yourself get burned out. Everyone is always full of enthusiasm during elementary schools but after 6 years, they can then feel burned out. Your kids, despite what they say, need you in middle and high school (and so do the schools).

Also to Anonymous on the waitlist; have courage. It is a drag to move your child but a lot of people give up and that's how the waitlist moves faster. If Eckstein means something to your family, then be willing to move in the 3rd, 4th or even 6th week because many families won't and you benefit from that. Check back every week (at the school). The waitlist does dissolve on Oct 31st. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Great first day. My first grader has a wonderful teacher. I was a bit worried because her better friends all got put in the same class different than hers, but she had a great attitude and big hugs came from her friends in the other class after school. That got me more teary eyed than anything.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I was more nervous than my kindergartener. Her school held a very nice coffee gathering for the parents and then a school-wide assembly that started the year with a real sense of community.

It's been an emotional week for us after finding out last Thursday that Hay moved their waitlist and we got our reference school (4 blocks away) so she won't spend almost 2 hours a day on the bus!

I know how you feel Anonymous (waiting for Eckstein)...and hope you are soon as fortunate.

Anonymous said...

My new high schooler schlepped his french horn six blocks to the metrobus stop without knowing for sure what to do with it when he got to school. Because even though there was orientation on Tuesday and I had reminded him to find out about the instrument lockers did he do that? Neither did he listen when I suggested he find the location of his classes in advance. Wednesday morning on his way out the door he realized those had been good ideas and left the house with more than a bit of dread. He also forgot his lunch.

But he ran into a friend, a junior, who showed him the band lockers. Then he found all his classes, mooched some food off friends at lunch and had an OK day.

He had homework --- to finish drawing a comic strip for Health. I had the usual first day homework --- the parent packet. I know it is all important and interesting, but good golly, the amount of paper kid's bring home for us to read and sign and write checks for!

Charlie Mas said...

My new middle schooler was angry that she didn't have anything but orientation on her first day. No classes - they didn't even go to the classrooms or meet the teachers. She regarded the entire experience as a waste of her time.

On the plus side, she did say that the cafeteria food looked good.

Jet City mom said...

I love hearing about the kindergarteners.
My kids each went to very small ( North Seattle 5s & Matheia) schools for their first school experience- so I was broken in slowly ( as compared to the kids who like to jump in feet first!)

My own daughters first ( as a senior)went very well in her opinion.
She had a course changed from one she didn't need- to a class she wanted to take ( as a TA).
While she is not on the 5 AP class track with many of her friends- she does have good friends on the one AP track, and is happy to have friends in all her classes.

Im still not so thrilled that she only has three academic classes, ( and only five classes- as a 6th wasn't available) but I am going to encourage her to make the most of all of them & as I am also beginning school this fall, it will give her more space to take more charge of concerns/conflicts as she will have to do that on her own in college.

So all in all, I think things went very well.

Anonymous said...

I love the first day of school - so much positive energy and feeling of new beginnings! I loved it as a kid, too. My two kids (Pathfinder & Madison) came home happy and energized - the 4th grader actually skipped home from the bus stop - and my 7th grader even dug into his first-day homework with gusto! Wonder if that will continue (ha ha) ...

Anonymous said...

My Oldest and first to hit high school started yesterday.....at Roosevelt........she was delighted with every single step of the day....and so we were too! It was especially satisfying because she was on the wait list for a very long time!

Anonymous said...

Well, we didn't have the greatest couple of days. Our child started 4th grade this year, and has a new teacher. The teacher is a second year teacher, that transfered from Rainier View to our high performing school. Though the teacher is very very nice, she seems to treat the 4th graders like kindergarteners. They are coloring pages out of coloring books, and planning a field trip to a corn maze (they did this in preschool and kindergarten). She writes really big and and explains things very very slowly. My child is frustrated already. I am concerned. Don't really know what to do about it. maybe it's just first day kinks, and things will improve after the teacher gets to know the kids and their abilities. Yikes.

Jet City mom said...

we had that exact experience anon-
For 4th grade- the expectations all year were MUCH lower than the ones for 3rd grade had been.
The teacher was in 2nd year teaching ( the previous year she had taught 1st gd)and while the 3rd grade teacher had them writing essays and researched reports- the 4th grade teacher had many papers for coloring.( and much was made of the class bunny- sounds like K doesn't it)

In our case- the parents who were active advocates- had already been assigned a different teacher-My daughters classroom was mostly made of parents who either thought it was OK or otherwise weren't heard.
Compound that with a craptacular teacher for the next year & we got two years in a row that had repercussions for years ( she is now a senior)
I would find out what expectations are ASAP- you can't waste any time- and you might be reassured ( I hope)

Anonymous said...

First days at school have been great (Lowell and The New School), but my first experience with the bussing and the Transportation Dept. (for a first grader riding for the first time) has been very stressful - an hour late the first day, 50 minutes late the next day. I've heard plenty of stories from other parents with equally late or later students. I understand the issues of new drivers figuring out new routes, but the total inability (due to constant busy signals and offices closed after 4:30) to contact the Department is very frustrating (scary, actually) when one doesn't know where one's 6 year old is at 5:00.

Am I missing something? Is there an emergency contact number to call after 4:30? Of course, I can't get through to the Transportation Dept. to find out. I assume this has been adressed before, it seems to be a major safety issue.

Anonymous said...

We had such a horrible experience with transportation last year that we switched schools. We live in NE Seattle and our child went to Salmon Bay. Although the district is not supposed to have children riding the bus for more than an hour each way, our sons bus was "late" every single day, making his commute an hour and a half to an hour and forty five minutes.....EACH WAY!!!!

Transportation didn't really care, and let me know it very clearly. The school couldn't do anything about it but complain, which was futile.

Transportation in SPS stinks, and someone really should do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed that the rules for walking to a bus seem to be different than those for walking to school? My daughter (3rd grade) wasn't allowed onto a bus (as available basis--that's fine) last year because she would have had to cross N 80th ST and Linden N (arterials, too busy, whatever), but the kids on the block who are assigned to Bagley (K-5) are expected to cross those STs AND Aurora (with no crossing guards) Eeek!

This year she got on because a real human being on the phone realized that her 8th grade brother was already on the bus and could keep an eye on her. (I had sworn that I would always come meet her but they didn't believe me--and had no mechanism for me to sign it in blood!).

Anonymous said...

We have given up on transportation all together. We live within two miles of my kids school. The bus ride is an hour each way! They snake through many different neighborhoods and stop at another school before they get to my kids school. I'm sorry but time is precious. Choosing between a 5 minute car ride and a one hour bus commute is just absurd. And, this isn't an anomaly, when my kids were younger they were in a different school that was about the same distance from our house. Same situation with the bus. One hour each way. Was it this way before we had this bus company take over (about 5 years ago)???

What can we do about it. So many families that I know choose not to use the bus for these very reasons (not to mention poor bus behavior). It seems like families are not benefiting from the services and that's just not fair.

Anonymous said...

The Lowell buses are always terrible for a week or so and then settle down.

My son's old afternoon bus time was after four, so I don't know that I've ever called transportation when it *wasn't* after four-thirty. If it's busy, that's actually a good sign -- means there are a lot of late buses and a lot of parents calling.

I just discovered an automatic redial function on my cell phone that I didn't know I had. You just hold the phone to your ear and pace about while it keeps redialing the ever-busy number.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

from the first bus-subject poster: I'm not upset about the planned duration of the ride, I've accepted that it's an hour and I don't have the option to do a car ride because I work until 5:00. I've also accepted that it will take a few weeks for this to smooth out. What freaks me out is that there is no way to contact the Dept. in the case of a real emergency. I'm imagining a time a month from now, when the driver has learned the route and things have been going smoothly, and one day my kid's bus doesn't show up, and it's 5:00, and I have no one at the Transpo. Dept. to contact. In that case, I'm going to imagine the worst possible scenario and call 911. It's ridiculous that the Transpo. Dept. doesn't have an emergency after-hours contact #, or, at the least, a web site where they can post a list of busses that are delayed. From the responses I see here, no one is aware of anything like this?

Anonymous said...

We had a similar issue with transportation. The bus left my son at a stop about 2 miles away from our house, on busy Sandpoint Way. After dialing and dialing and it being almost 5PM, I panicked, and was about to call 911, when I finally got through to transportation. The bus had taken the wrong route and my son though he recognized the neighborhood so asked the driver to let him off. Once he got off he realized he really didn't know where he was. He stood alone on that busy corner for over an hour and a half with no way to contact me. He was hysterical by the time I finally figured out where he was, and went to pick him up, which was about 5:30P. Luckily he was fine, but what if he would have been hit by a car or abducted???

Jet City mom said...

re transportation

This is a huge issue

I actually drove my daughter most of the time to school- and while that was a huge PITA sometimes- there were so many issues with transportation- that it was just easier.

I think this is something the school district needs to address.
Yes some routes are fine- and not all drivers change every month. Some actually learn the route- get to know the kids and have a nice rapport with them.

There should be an emergency number- and kids less than a certain age should not just be left at bus stop unless there is an adult there.

BUs routes need to be shorter- safer.

When I used to ride a school bus ( and even when my D was younger) they were never allowed to ride a bus other than their own without a signed note from office.
They were never allowed to get off at a different stop than their own without a signed note from office.
The district should be liable for kids from the time they are picked up at their stop to when they are released at their stop.
I hear too many stories of SPED kids dropped off where ever or not even picked up- what will it take to get policy changed?
I shudder to think.

She now rides metro- which still isn't perfect- but at least the drivers generally know their routes

Anonymous said...

Well, (again from the first bus-related poster) - it wasn't what I'd planned on putting my energy into this year, but I will discuss with my Board rep (Cheryl Chow) and figure out where/how I can put pressure on the Transpo. Dept. to have some sort of Emergency Plan. I just can't believe this hasn't been addressed before - if it has I'd love to learn what happened. I may as well sign my name since I'll be the crazy lady standing up at Board meetings in the future if this goes nowhere.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the emergency contact, the other issue that really needs to be addressed is the amount of time our children sit on the bus. I can imagine what a nightmare transportation for a "choice" system must be like. However, the are required to have routes be no longer than one hour. They get around this by scheduling the ride to be one hour long, but the bus is "late" every day. As I mentioned in an earlier post my child rode the bus for an hour and a half to an hour and forty five minutes each way, EVERY DAY. It was of course, just late. Every day.

While this is not a safety concern, it is a tragedy. No child should sit on a bus for three hours EVERY DAY.

Anonymous said...

When all else fails, you can call the district's security dept. which is staffed 24 hours.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm a little troubled by k.wild's decision to contact the Board Director from her District with a complaint/concern about transportation. While the Board is the place to go with suggestions for Policy changes, they are NOT the place to direct complaints.

Suggestions for improvement should go first to the people directly responsible. In the event that you do not get satisfaction there, then you should follow the District's complaint process. Contact the folks in customer service and they will help you.

It may still pay for you to come to a Board meeting because the Superintendent says that staff from Customer Service will be at the Board meeting to handle complaints.

Anonymous said...

Both of my students -now old enought to be out of public schools- rode yellow school busses. But when there was a problem, I learned to contact the bus company and bypassed SPS tranportation.Laidlaw was the contractor at that time and their phone number was in the business pages of the phone book. The bus company was able to radio the driver and give me an eta. One very bad year we coped with an extremely late bus on a daily basis. This went on for at least a month or more. All the while I am in contact with SPS Transportation. The bus company finally divulged that they did not have enough drivers for the routes. Some drivers were assigned two early morning routes (middle & high school.) They would complete one route and move to the second route which by now was already an hour or more behind schedule. It was resolved but I had to be persistent not only with the bus company but with SPS transportation.

Anonymous said...

I wrote earlier about my child riding the bus an hour and a half to an hour and forty five minutes each way, every day. I contacted the transportation director, who ignored my calls for weeks. I finally caught him at a time he was at his desk and was able to talk with him. Unfortunately, our talk was fruitless. He complained of a lack of bus drivers, he complained about the long routes to the all city draw schools (My child was at Salmon Bay), he complained about parents not who opt not to use yellow bus not informing them (slows down the route), and he complained about the one hour max bus ride policy, stating that it was unrealistic in some cases. What he didn't do was try to fix it, or even work on it. It was an awful year, and I had to wind up changing jobs, so I could get to school by 3PM to pick him up, so he would only have to ride the bus one way. We changed schools, and don't use transportation at all this year. I wish I had known about the complaint process, I would have pursued it. However, I did reach the head of transportation and it did me not one bit of good.

Anonymous said...

My child suffered under the debacle of summer school where that person, Glenda who was suppose to be managing transportation and summer school dropped the ball and lost my student. Again, when I tried to find out what was going on, I get referred by her to Michelle Corker who really just dismissed me. I could not find my daughter at all and the district did not seem to care. Especially those two women. It seems ridiculous that our children have to suffer because the people in charge are always clueless to what is happening to our children. My child needs special attention and year after year, she does not get it. It is time to go to private school until Seattle schools gets real leadership!