Kat is mom to Sam, a Kindergartner at John P. Parker. The two recently sat down over breakfast to share their Madisonville school story.
“Sam loves school, he likes his teacher, he comes home excited about his day,” Kat said, then added with a prideful tone, “He’s reading at a first-grade level.” She lights up when she talks about Sam’s teacher, who she says is always challenging her son to learn more. “I want a school that will set my child up for success in the future. That’s what Parker is all about. They have an eye on all of the kids’ performance.”
Like most parents, Kat reached out for advice from other parents before choosing the right school for her son, “A lot of parents in Madisonville don’t send their kids to Parker. Having heard all the negative perceptions about the school like low academic performance, I was hesitant.”
The neighborhood school has gone through a revitalization in recent years, with resources in place like a STEM garden for the fourth grade classrooms, programming by Cincinnati Ballet, a strong emphasis on educational field trips and plenty of hands-on learning opportunities with a soccer field and outdoor classroom underway for 2020.
Still, the school hasn’t been looked at in a positive light by many in the neighborhood, “I think a lot of it stems from troubles the school had a long time ago – that negative perception isn’t helpful,” said Kat.
Kat didn’t want those negative perceptions to guide her decision. So, she did more research. She took the tour with a friend who worked with 4C for Children. She asked questions. She compared options. She was looking for the same thing many parents look for in a school: a strong sense of community, a nurturing environment, a staff who celebrate students’ strengths, and academic rigor. After she took the school tour and the school checked all her boxes, Kat says she felt like she was missing something, “It was too good to be true.”
Kat has talked to people about the racial divide at the school as well, “I have heard people say that they have concerns that their child to be the only white kid at the school,” she went on. “So I think race is part of the decision. I don’t think people want to say that, because it’s such a sensitive topic.” The topic of race is one Kat thinks people should start talking about more, “Nothing will change with how divided our school system is if people don’t start choosing differently.”
Sam said his best friend in school is Zion, “We run fast together on recess.” But he really lit up when asked about his teacher, “My teacher is great!” he exclaimed. “She always tells me when I’m doing good.” Sam says his favorite part of school (besides recess with
Zion of course) is specials when he gets to go to art room, gym, music, or maker’s space, “I like to make pictures on colorful paper. I’m a good artist.”
Looking back, Kat wonders why the decision to send Sam to a neighborhood school was so daunting, “At the time when I was making the decision, it was nerve-racking. It feels like it shouldn’t have been so hard now that I’m on the other side,” she said. “I’m interested to see what decisions people make as Madisonville continues to grow and develop. Hopefully Parker will be the first school they consider.”