Date Submitted: 3/24/2010
What school did you decide on? Springside School
Calendar year your child entered/will enter 2010
Grade your child entered/will enter Kindergarten
What neighborhood are you in? NW Philly
What schools did you consider? Miquon, Independence Charter, Greene Street Friends, The Philadelphia School, Wissahickon Charter
What factors were most important to you? Financial Aid Package, Teaching Philosophy, Teacher Quality, Principal Quality
What first attracted you to the school? Single sex education seems very right for the temperament of my daughter, teachers openness, principal/leadership, incredible art program, use of technology is integrated and modern but not overbearing, facilities and outdoor space time, feeling of safety, and the fact that my daughter fell in love with it and just glowed with joy the entire time she was there.
Did you relocate in order to choose this school? No
On the political spectrum, I consider myself to be Hard Left/Liberal
Please share anything else about your experience This was a very difficult process for us, as I was a firm public school advocate while my husband was insistent on private (he grew up in Philly, I grew up in rural Maine–pretty different experiences). We looked at approximately 12 schools and one thing I would say to someone entering this process is that there are many fantastic choices out there if you really investigate and keep an open mind. We would have been happy with any of the schools we applied to, so our choice ended up being between several great places. Ultimately it was an instinct about where our daughter would fit in best, and the financial aid package offered to us.
A few things: I would caution anyone to reject or desire a school based on rumor and reputation. I scoured the internet looking for reviews, articles, etc. And it didn’t mean much of anything. You MUST visit it yourself. We never would have considered Springside if we hadn’t been encouraged to go to an open house by a friend. We went reluctantly, thinking it would be a bunch of snooty rich white girls. We found a bunch of awkward, earthy intellectuals who didn’t care about being nerds. It was lovely! On the other hand, we visited two schools that had great reputations, one private and one charter, that we visited and knew immediately were not right for us. We decided to take the plunge with Springside when we got a very generous financial aid package–wouldn’t be possible without it–and are very optimistic that it will be a great place for her. We intend to be very involved with the school but also trust the teachers to offer guidance in academics and social development that challenge and encourage our daughter. We know we won’t share every value that the other parents have, but we are okay with bringing our own ethos to the environment. Paying for it, even with a great aid package, is going to be a huge challenge for us and means giving up a lot of plans, but we feel this is the single most important thing we can spend our money on.
One other thing: don’t apply to a school you wouldn’t gladly send your child to. And don’t assume you can’t afford private school if it’s important to you. We are finding a way to do it. We don’t have loads of money but we are very conservative (read: cheap) with what we have. There are lots of options out there. Our path was to find the best place for our daughter first, then find a way to make it happen. Having one in school and one in daycare is going to be very tough for the next couple of years. But beans and rice are healthy! And a walk in the Wissahickon is as good as a vacation!
Finally, I am SO glad it’s all over and we can just get on with our lives! Fall was really hard on all of us. It was a full-time job managing applications, testing, visits, recommendation letters, and financial aid stuff. I wouldn’t want to go through it again.