Thursday, October 30, 2014

a hurdle overcome

Two Scrabble games in today and Blake and I are one to one.  It's one of the joys of homeschooling that you can have your child home to play board games with on a weekday.  As we played, the chickens took up residence on the back step, peering in the sliding glass door, spectators of Scrabble maybe?

I'm going to miss my boy when he heads off to the high school next year.  We've already reached the end of the first quarter!  Austin is also just finishing his first quarter at the school.  And that leads me to a story I wanted to relate.

Last spring we began the steps to transfer Austin into the high school.  The 9th grade counselor assisted us in choosing his classes for 10th grade and a course of action toward graduation.  Unfortunately, she told us, the school would not be able to accept the 9th grade credits he had earned through our homeschool.  We did not work under a charter school and we were not a state accredited entity therefore our credits would not be recognized.  I almost cried in her office as I explained to her how hard we had both worked his 9th grade year to just have it all be for nothing.

His options to make up these credits would be a) staying after school every day and redoing the classes, b) summer school (at $75 per credit), c) an online school that allows you to work through courses at your own pace ($150 - $200 per class).

Over the summer I rolled those options over in my head.  But I didn't give up hope that we could change the tide.  School started up again, Austin now enrolled in the high school full time.  There was a time of adjustment, some acclimating that happened.  But still, there was that dread knowing that he somehow was going to need to make up those classes to graduate.  Or we had the option for him to not graduate and instead earn his GED.  Or I could combine his homeschool transcript with the high school's transcript and issue him a homeschool diploma.  Believe me, I entertained every idea.

Austin took the California Achievement test online, here at home.    Before he took it, I explained to him that we needed to get some idea of what level he was on, something concrete to show the school, if we even wanted a fighting chance.  Those scores ended up being arrows in our quiver.

I created a very professional looking transcript of Austin's 9th grade year.  Armed with the transcript and the scores from the CAT, my husband and I met with the 10th grade counselor.  She was doubtful.  She gave us our other options (summer school, online school, etc...) and told us she'd give the transcript and CAT scores to the principal who would, ultimately, be making the decision.

During this whole time I was very transparent with Austin.  I expressed my concerns and made him aware of all of our options.  He gave his input and I listened.  I've learned that with a teenager, you have to listen not only to what they say, but also to what they don't say.  I encouraged him to have faith that this would work out in our favor.

I gave the counselor a week and a half before I contacted her by email.  My email was very heartfelt and professional, just checking in on the status of the credits, etc...

A few days later she responded.  "I'm very happy to tell you that the principal has decided to accept the English credit!"  She explained that his test scores had a large part in this decision.  She went on to explain that they still needed a little more information on the rest of the classes before making a decision and could I please supply them with such and such.

I was elated!  To know that, in the face of this hurdle, we had achieved this little victory.  It was encouraging to know that the public school system, with all it's flaws and naysayers, had done us this justice and was willing to continue working with us.

Now, with the ball in my court again, I had to sit down and organize the information they needed.  The CAT test had supplied them with Austin's scores in a portion of the subjects but they needed to see results from History, Science, and Art.  I kept great records last year so I had everything they needed available.  Like I had with the transcript, I formulated a concise and detailed record.  I included a break down of each class, quarter grades, test scores, and semester grades.  All beautiful and complete, I emailed it off.

That very afternoon the counselor emailed me again.  The principal had approved the credits!  He is in line with all of his requirements and set to graduate as planned.  Hallelujah!!

The one credit that they were not able to transfer over was for the Bible Survey class Austin had completed in 9th grade.  Because the school itself does not offer a class like that they weren't able to use the credit.  Really, I'm ok with it.  I'm thankful for the amount that they were willing to work with us after being told it just wasn't going to be possible, or at least highly unlikely.

Now we set our faces forward once again.  As the parent of a public schooled student I shift my responsibilities slightly.  I check his grades weekly on our school's family access site.  I can view missed assignments, test scores, assignment scores, etc...  Every day I ask him about his classes, ask about homework, ask what they are talking about in class, ask about who he sits by, ask about the teacher, ask about what's happening at school, ask how lunch was, ask if he met anyone new, ask if he's sleeping well.  And it annoys him sometimes but I feel like it's so important.  There are days where I tread gently and don't push very hard and there are other days that he's willing to open and up and bare what's inside.  It's a fine line.  And I never want to sever that cord of trust that binds us.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this being a parent stuff is not for the fainthearted!

But YAY for little victories and hurdles overcome!

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