Why I Chose CW Henry: 2011-11-08 School Selection Report

Image from the Friends of CW Henry School

This is a snapshot of one parent’s school choice. You can read other parent testimonials and help other parents. Take five minutes to complete an anonymous survey to tell PSS and our readers about your school choice!

What school did you decide on? C.W. Henry

Calendar year your child entered/will enter 2011

Grade your child entered/will enter Kindergarten

What neighborhood are you in? NW Philly

What schools did you consider? Henry, Greene Street Friends, Germantown Friends, Wissahickon Charter, Russell Byers, Miquon

What factors were most important to you? Financial Aid Package, Reputation, Teaching Philosophy, Public Eduction, School Performance (test scores, success of graduates), Teacher Quality, Principal Quality, Diversity

What first attracted you to the school? Henry is a local school (although not our catchment school) with a good reputation and a strong network of families and alumni.  It is also a block away from Summit Children’s Program, which has an excellent aftercare program and a tremendous aftercare director.

What were the critical factors that led to your choice? Truthfully — in an ideal world I might have sent my child to Greene Street Friends, but they have a huge pre-K class and my child was waitlisted for kindergarten. But Please don’t disregard my support for Henry on that basis, because I bet I’m just being more candid than many people who post here.  The tuition also would have been a stretch, even though GSFS tuition is lower than other schools (I still would have had to pay for aftercare). BUT — when I looked at Henry, I saw kids who were just as happy and engaged as the kids I saw at each of the private schools I visited. And so I don’t really feel like I got my second choice, but a different choice.   I left my tour of Henry feeling strongly that the major difference between the private schools I’d looked at and Henry (aside from differences in educational approach at Miquon) was an aesthetic one.  If you send your child to an old Philadelphia school, even a good one, it’s not going to look like a cozy little Quaker school. It is not going to have a fireplace in the kindergarten classroom like GFS, or a creek like Miquon. It is not going to have the resources of GFS or Springside. But there are only 19 kids in each kindergarten classroom at Henry, a teacher and a student teacher, great diversity. The school is also one of a handful of schools that got a grant to bring in Playworks, a nationally recognized program that helps guide play at recess to help kids learn peacemaking and problem solving skills.  They have a garden.  They work with Weavers Way farm.  And they teach the kids to read in kindergarten.  Now, philosophically I might think my child doesn’t have to read in kindergarten.  They don’t teach kids to read in kindergarten at many private schools.  But four weeks into the first semester of kindergarten, it clicked for my kid, who is thrilled beyond belief at this new ability.  Who am I to frown at that? The kindergarten teacher is readily accessible by email, solves problems creatively (e.g., wanted to help channel my child’s enthusiasm and asked if it was ok to make my child a buddy for a child who was a little shy and needed a little help in class), and they’re learning great stuff in a class that includes children who are not necessarily exactly like them — class, race, ability, religion.  Other factors that might be worth considering: In public schools, if it turns out that your child needs learning support, you don’t have to pay for it (you do, extra, at private schools).  Henry is a feeder for Masterman (although over 80 percent of the kids who stay through grade 8 wind up at one of the magnet high schools, and when I toured the school the older kids seemed engaged and respectful, too.)  Also terrific music program, much better than what I saw at any private school with the possible exception of Germantown Friends, which gives every kid a violin for ten weeks in third grade.

Bottom line: happy, engaged child who loves learning, supportive school environment, and $10,000 that I’m not spending on school tuition.

Did you relocate in order to choose this school? No

On the political spectrum, I consider myself to be  liberal

Please share anything else about your experience We did not get into Henry through the voluntary transfer program.  However, we were connected to Henry because of our connection to Summit Children’s Program, which drops the kids off in the morning if you’ve got to get the early train and picks them up after school (and does art, yoga, free play, chess, all kinds of stuff with the kids).  There was a lot of direct begging of the principal at Henry.  They want involved parents.  I also went to the Considering Henry meetings.

I looked at two charter schools seriously: Wissahickon and Russell Byers.  I loved Wissahickon, even though I think that the charter schools are a drain on public education.I thought Wissahickon had a really special approach and I might have chosen it over Henry, although the neighborhood school/ Summit connection was a big seller.  If you’re considering Russell Byers over Henry or Jenks, I don’t think it’s got anything to offer that they don’t (and at least in the case of Henry, there’s no comparison with the music and art).

This is a snapshot of one parent’s school choice. You can read other parent testimonials and help other parents. Take five minutes to complete an anonymous survey to tell PSS and our readers about your school choice!

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