Many Nashville schools
offer excellent instruction
Photo: AP/Lynne Sladky
School choices seemed like they were much easier for parents when children were younger. Parents choose the best daycare based on simple common sense attributes: cleanliness, the attentive of the staff, and the resources of the facility. The pressure was not as great because we knew that our children would have many influences ahead of them and those early days would soon become a faded, but hopefully pleasant, memory. Now that our children have matured into adolescents on the way to becoming adults, the stakes are much higher. Choosing the wrong secondary school for our children can have a negative impact on the next 10 -25 years of our child’s life and in some cases, the rest of their lives. How does a parent comb through the mire of choices, teachers, administrators, students, and offerings?
There is no easy, cure-all. Each and every student is different and so are the differences between individual families and their values and needs. There are a few tools that parents in Nashville can use to navigate the sea, however. First for both public and private schools, the Internet is the first place to start. Each school, both MNPS and private, has a website that parents can peruse. Look at the administration of the school and see how it is structured. Note how many students attend the school and value whether this will fit in with your student’s needs. If it is a large school, over 500 students total in all grades, see if there are administrators assigned to each grade. This will let you know whether behavior and daily scheduling will be a conflict. Also look at whether the school offers the basic academic requirements for student graduation as well as advanced placement courses, if your student is thinking of higher education after high school. Even Nashville vocational technical schools require a minimum of credits in the core courses to gain entry. Core subject areas are Math, English, History, and Science. Also if your student enjoys extracurricular activities such as music, sports, or forensics, it is important to see if the school offers these programs and what the history of those programs has been at the school. If the school has won awards in these areas in the recent past, then this may be an important consideration in your choice.
Most importantly, it is vital to visit the school. The school’s website and NCLB (No Child Left Behind) documentation on the school’s yearly progress can only tell you so much. Nothing is a substitute for actually seeing the school in action. Be sure to take your teen with you, so they can get a first-hand impression of what it would be like to attend the school. It is important to remember that you do have a choice, and if one school is not working for your student, do not be afraid to change. All educators are open to conversation and you can call the school and ask any questions you may have. Most schools are delighted to have potential students pose an interest and will go out of their way to welcome you, even if they are not your final choice. Every new journey begins with the first step.