Thursday, September 11, 2014

High school

So last night was back to school night at the high school. It was an opportunity for the parents to go to each of their kids classrooms and meet their teachers and hear a little bit about what they'll be doing this year. I've done elementary school and middle school back to school nights a million times now and I know everything there is to know about those schools, but I'm was kind of excited to go to the high school BTS night for the first time and see what's happening over there.

It's an interesting experience because they give you your child's schedule and you pretty much follow it through their school day, tying to find their classes before the bell rings. I was totally late getting there because traffic was bad (Josh told me I should have gotten detention for my tardy, lol) so I missed the opening welcome thing from the principal and then Josh has a religious class off campus first period, so I ended up rushing to get there and then sitting for a bit since there was was no meet the teacher thing for his first class.

But then things got moving and I made it to his second period class. It's a super cool art class and I really liked his teacher. He reminded me a bit of the hippy counselor on Freaks and Geeks. You know that guy? He sings to the class and gets really excited about their creative flow, lol. He was cool, I could totally take an art class from that guy.

The thing that I picked up on from all his teachers last night was how excited they are to be teaching there. It's a really unique college prep high school full of overachievers who have chosen to be there and it's just such an amazing environment. The kids are all excited to learn, which makes the teachers excited to teach, which makes the learning environment so much more enjoyable. I've met some teachers in my day who just look totally beaten down by the public school system. They come out of  college so excited to teach and change the world and after years of discipline problems and kids who don't want to learn, they burn out. These teachers all seemed so excited and enthusiastic.

I went to his english class and seriously, sitting in that room made me want to go back to college SO bad. I always loved english when I was in school and his english teacher is really dynamic and interesting. The classes last night were just ten minutes long but that guy totally had my attention. They're doing To Kill a Mockingbird this year, which I'm really excited about. They'll be doing Hemingway and Shakespeare and I had this moment where I was all "Yay, we're doing Hemingway?!" And then I was all "oh, right, I don't go to this school." lol I'm totally going to read along with Josh. I'm excited to read To Kill A Mockingbird with him and discuss it.

Because it's a college prep school and their junior and senior years are essentially college classes, they cram all four years of high school into the first two years. So I discovered last night that his history class this year is actually sophomore and junior history crammed into one year during their freshman year. They still learn all the same things but because they're all honors kids, they can get through it a lot faster. So if he quit this school after the end of this year and went back to regular high school (which he's not going to do) he would actually already have his sophomore and junior history requirements met. It's a really intense pace, but he likes things like that.

So getting to go to all of his classes was really cool and made me really excited for what he'll be doing this year. I adore that school and I feel so lucky that it's an option for him. It's kind of a big deal for me that he's there because I finally feel like we have him where he needs to be.

I know it's just a big old mom brag, and I don't mean it to be, but Josh is a kid who taught himself to read at three, was writing poetry at five, wrote a 22 page autobiography at six and has basically been chomping at the bit to learn since he could speak. You would think that would make for a very easy kid to raise, but actually not. I have really struggled a lot over the years about what to do with him. We took him to a psychologist when he was six to have him tested because I needed to know what we were dealing with to decide what to do about schooling and he tested at a sixth grade level in reading and writing in Kindergarten. I remember his Kindergarten teacher apologizing to me that she really didn't feel like she was teaching him anything. If she ever had to leave the room for something she would hand a book to Josh and have him read to the class while she was gone, lol.

This has been a bit of a struggle throughout his schooling. School has always been really easy for him. In middle school he would get his work done so fast that he would always ask his teachers if he could go to the library where he's been working on writing a novel and he would work on his video projects. In math his teacher would have him tutoring the ESL kids because she couldn't keep him busy. He's the kind of kid who will make sure that he's busy no matter what, but school has always been a bit frustrating for him, and that has been hard to watch because I have questioned myself for years over whether there was something more I should had done. It has been a tricky situation.

So now here he is at this school that goes at a crazy fast pace and they pile on hours of homework a night and there are almost no electives and he is THRILLED! And I am thrilled because finally I'm not worried about him anymore. I finally know that this is where he needs to be. It's kind of a weird moment as a mom that I'm hugely relieved that school is hard for my kid, lol.  He comes home happy and excited and he is challenged and it's going to be hard for him and he WANTS it to be hard, and I want it to be hard. I want it to kick his behind, because school should challenge you, especially a kid like him who has been desperately seeking a challenge. His days of easy A's are over, and I'm excited to see him working hard for his grades. This is going to be a very different experience for him. He's a little fish in a big pond now and that's actually a good thing. He will be challenged to keep up and he needs that. If all goes well he will graduate high school with his college associates degree, and that will be a major accomplishment. I'm excited for what lies ahead for him.

In his spare time he has signed up for the academic decathlon team at the school (which they call Acadeca), which is like quiz bowl. They're given a topic for the year, this year it's renewable energy or something like that, and then each member of the team takes a specific area of study and researches the crap out of it. Then they go against other schools and there is a regional and state tournament and then a national tournament. There aren't many freshman on the team, so this is kind of a learning year for him, but I'm excited to see what he does with that in the coming years. Doing research in your spare time and going up against other smart kids to see who is smarter is what qualifies as sport at that school, lol. Also, like half the school is on the debate team, which makes me laugh. Josh isn't doing debate, but I guess the group is huge. That's what these kids do for fun. And I love that.

So I know that was a lot of blah blah blah mom brag, and I know that it's not interesting to anyone but me, but I like to write these kinds of things down for my kids. I want to look back and remember these days and the big moments and exciting achievements in my kids lives, and I want them to read it some day and know how exited I am for them and how proud I am of them. The best part of being a mom is watching your kids grow and succeed and watching them spread their wings and fly.

No comments: