I've written this post no less than a dozen times in my head. I pretend to be perplexed as to why it is so hard for me to share this part of our family's life with you, but that's just charade. I know exactly why it's hard: I'm afraid. I'm afraid of being criticized and questioned.
But then I read words of wisdom from finslippy (in A few words about fear) and she reminds me:
if no one dislikes you, you’re not doing it right.
So, I'm turning my chin up to the fear and trusting you with this from my heart.
This will not be a
1) criticism of homeschooling (if you are new here, you may not know I've run a series of guest posts from homeschoolers. Click on the "schooling" tag from the category cloud in the sidebar to read more.)
2) defense of the public school system in the United States of America
Most every family that I know (online or offline) who homeschools will tell anyone who asks that they feel called to educate their children at home. The reasons for this vary greatly, but most feel utterly confident that this is the best choice for their family.
In a very similar way, we feel called to public schools. I'm going to share a couple of things with you that flesh out that statement, but I want to make clear from the start that sending our girls to public school is simply what we feel led by the Lord to do. For now.
My sophomore year in high school, in an Honors English II class, we were given the assignment to write our own obituaries. I doodled around a bit, and then quickly wrote out what I felt was a quite satisfactory homage to my long-lived, much-revered life. (I was fifteen, after all.) My friend Kelly sat next to me and worked the whole hour on hers, but grew increasingly agitated.
I just can't stand thinking about dying. I'm afraid of dying. Aren't you afraid of dying? she asked.
Well, I mean, not really. And that's when the Holy Spirit stirred within me and compelled me - she of little courage - to stammer out that actually, I wasn't afraid of dying because I believed when I died that I would spend eternity in heaven because of my faith in Jesus Christ.
Later that afternoon, our minister to students accompanied me to Kelly's house where she prayed to receive Christ as her Savior. I went to a different high school in our hometown after my sophomore year, but I know that soon after high school graduation, Kelly got married and she and her husband went on the mission field to spread the gospel abroad.
That was a defining moment in my life. Who knew one conversation would bring so much yield?
I graduated from college with a degree in English - emphasis on Secondary Education. I married a man whose degree is also in education. From our earliest days of student teaching, we saw the dynamic and powerful impact of Christian teachers and Christian students in public schools.
When I taught English for three years in Texas, my heart and faith were encouraged by the amazing and authentic Christian students I had in class. I can see their faces in my mind as clearly as if it were yesterday, even though it has been six years since I last had a classroom of my own. A small group of them were given permission to meet on campus in the morning for prayer and a quick devotional time, and they asked to use my classroom for that purpose.
All of this is to say that I passionately believe there is a place for Christian families in the public schools of our communities.
I will say, however, as Dacey's first day of Pre-K neared, I probably asked Kyle eighty times or more if he still thought we were doing the right thing by choosing public school. We've prayed and listened and prayed and listened and for this moment in time, we still feel strongly that this is how God is leading us a family. We believe that He has placed us in this community for a time such as this, and that we, as a family, can minister to other families in our community through the common ground of a shared schooling choice.
I feel like I can't publish this with complete transparency without this one last note: Bear in mind that we live in The Buckle of The Bible Belt. We sit behind the Superintendent of Schools and his wife (an elementary school counselor) every. single. Sunday in church. Dacey's Pre-K teacher is also the Director of Children's Ministries at our church. Last month, I was in the front office signing Dacey out early one day, and the door to the principal's office was open. I heard him on a personal phone call saying, "I've prayed about it and I think . . ." (anddon'ttellanyonethis but at the Pre-K Christmas program, Away in the Manger was worked into the program. shhhhhhhhhh!)
Does this mean our public schools closely mirror a Christian school? Oh no. Not even close. But we have the luxury of a comfort level there that many, many families do not have.
I say all of this to re-affirm that today I am simply telling you a little more about a topic I've managed to avoid for four years. This is why we choose public schools.
Please remember that my little ol' ENFP self is a very, very strong F (feeler). "I am concerned with harmony and nervous when it is missing." Yep. If I may ask, please be gentle in your response. (which is not to say you should feel shy about asking questions - even challenging ones. I am up for conversation, just not up for flaming words)
*** PS - check the comment section for more details on why I felt nervous about sharing this! ***