Friday, December 11, 2009

Bates (K1-5) school preview - Dec. 9

Because of the rush hour snow storm on Wednesday morning, it took me nearly an hour to drive from Roslindale to my son’s preschool in JP. Ugh. It made me think hard about convenience in a school.
So after I got back from preschool, I dried myself off and walked over to the Bates (8 min. walk, including a stoplight at Washington Street). This was my second visit to the Bates. I went last year too. I don’t want to repeat everything from my earlier post, so I’ll mainly just update what’s changed.

Because of last year's budget cuts, Principal Hung had to get rid of the music specialist. Then, after funding was restored, they got a visual arts specialist. Now, she’s trying to get a Making Music Matters grant, like Beethoven and Mozart, to bring in musical instrument instruction for the older students.

They have before- and after-school care, but that’s limited to those 5 years and up. They’re working on getting licensed for 4-year-olds by next year, but the principal couldn’t promise that would happen.

The principal also said that she’s working to get families more engaged.

There is one K1 classroom and it’s an integrated class, meaning there are 15 spots total and 8 of those go to general ed students. Then at K2 they have two strands of general ed. They also offer advanced work beginning in the fourth grade.

I’ve always been impressed by the teachers I’ve met in the lower grades. They’ve always been very warm and eager to answer any questions.

It's worth mentioning that last year, the Washington-Beech public housing development across the street from the Bates still existed in its brick form. Since then, the building on the corner of Washington and Beech streets has been razed and rebuilt. From what I understand, that corner building is reserved for seniors. The rest of the housing development will be transformed in the coming years.

For what it’s worth -- and in the eyes of a 3-year-old, it’s worth a lot -- Bates consistently gets my son’s vote for best neighborhood playground.

Convenience doesn’t count for everything in a school, but on wintery days like Wednesday, it’s definitely something. I’m probably more likely to be an involved parent at a school if I don’t have to schlep all over town.

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