This is a review of my search for a private school in Utah and the journey that I took to get there. As a mother of two children, we have had our share of struggles. One of my children was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the other child diagnosed with ADHD, and slight autism. School has always been one of the largest struggles for my children. I personally attended private school as a child and found it to be an amazing experience. My children are high functioning and have great personalities.
When looking for a private school I was looking for a few distinct things. The private school that I attended as a child had a real family feel to it. Everyone knew everyone else. The teachers knew the parents, the parents, knew the students, and the students were cared for by everyone. I wanted that feeling in the new school that I chose. I also wanted a strong academic environment. I wanted an environment in which my children would not only learn, but also learn at a higher level. Lastly I wanted an environment which would be accepting of my children. My children were bullied in public school. I knew that I could not have that happen to them ever again.
So I began my search. I took an entire week off of work to search for the right school for my children. I began with calling schools to make appointments. I visited several schools in the Salt Lake Valley. Waterford, J.E. Cosgriff, Our Lady of Lourdes, Intermountain Christian Academy, The McGillis School, The Reed School, St. Anne, St. Vincents, The Madeline Choir School, and many more. The McGillis School was gorgeous, clean, large, friendly staff, every amenity that you could think of, The Reed School was also very nice, large, and I have heard amazing reviews from friends who have children attending. Waterford was also very large, and has received amazing reviews; St. Anne was a great experience. They went out of their way to welcome me and to make me feel like my needs were understood and met. ICA was also a great school with friendly staff. The principal at Madeline Choir school spoke with me at length about the programs and curriculum. St. Vincent’s was familiar to me because when I was younger, we had attended dances there and it brought back great memories. J.E. Cosgriff also brought back several memories as the principal is the parent of a student whom I attended school with. J.E. Cosgriff also has beautiful facilities.
I gained a wealth of knowledge that week. I met several amazing people and saw some beautiful campuses. I was becoming very frustrated. Some schools had waiting lists, or were too full to take any more children. Some schools let me know in a roundabout way that mentally disabled children were not welcome there. They would say things like, “We don’t have the ability to help your child.” To a parent of a developmentally challenged child, that sounds like they are saying that my child is not as important as a “normal” child. They weren't willing to meet my children, or even try to have them attend. It was unfortunate and sad. You would think that a true Christian school would at least attempt to help everyone. This was not the case at more than one school.
Finally I walked into a school and instantly felt at home. Redeemer Lutheran. it was the same exact feeling that I had from the private school that I had attended so many years ago. I looked around and the premises were clean, and the children were smiling and dressed in adorable uniforms. The Principal Melody Barenbrugge greeted me with a smile and gave me a nice tour of the facilities. She showed me the beautiful chapel where the students are required to attend once a week and also take theological classes. The wide open playground and basketball courts, the music room where children have the option of learning how to play an instrument and are also required at some point to play in the bell choir. She showed me each classroom and personally introduced me to each teacher. Then she explained the sports program and showed me the trophy case. The school also has an amazing curriculum, and strives for excellence in math, science, and english. and I was more than impressed by her presentation, but would she accept my children? I knew instantly that this was the school that I wanted my children to attend.
I informed her of my decision and then she set up appointments to test them. My son passed the tests and was soon entered into the school. However this is not the end of the journey. My son has been at the school for than a year and has since increased two reading levels. He has made many close friends and has finally been invited to birthday parties. His birthday party this year was the largest that he has ever had. The most impressive change that I have noticed is the fact that he comes home from school and immediately begins working on his homework. One night I came home and told him that I wanted to take him to a movie and he told me "I can't go to a movie mom; I have too much homework to do." I think that the most beautiful thing about Redeemer, and about the principal is the fact that they even attempted to help us when so many other schools had turned us away. I am so thankful that we were given a chance.
My daughter is much younger and is in the Kindergarten class. I was brought to tears during her parent teacher conference. Her teacher Catherine Fisher told me that she hopes that my daughter is treated the same way that the class treats her for the rest of her life. Mrs. Fisher, who also won a national teaching award, said that the children love my daughter. I have witnessed them hugging her when I come to pick her up. To me this is priceless. To have children accept my children and shower love upon them is the most amazing thing in the world. My son's teacher Mrs. Cochran, also has had a large effect on our lives. She is a positive influence and drives my son to strive for excellence.
Others will argue that academics are the most important thing when considering an education. I would argue that at Redeemer Lutheran School has not only an excellent academic program, but they also offer love. They actually care about the students who attend their school. I have seen plenty of faux love displayed on my tours of other schools. I really felt it at Redeemer and continue to see it every day. Love is important. When a child feels cared for they suddenly gain confidence, they suddenly want to please their teachers and impress their peers. You can't put a price on it, but your child can experience it at Redeemer.
Redeemer Lutheran is now offering tours for enrollment. Interested parties may call (801) 467-4352 to set an appointment for a tour. Redeemer offers a full day K-6, before and after school care, sports for grades 4-6, small class sizes, and a caring Christian environment.
It never hurts to simply take a tour.