This is the third time my picture appeared on the front page of a major Richmond newspaper. Here is the second time. I’ll tell you about the first in a future post.
We had plans to take the Church Hill Christmas tour on Sunday and even surprise snow didn’t slow us down. It was a short drive and just some gentle flurries. I had stopped to fix Andrew’s mittens when a guy with an impressive camera asked if he could take our photo for the newspaper. I guess we provided some fun color with all the winter whites and also a nice juxtaposition against the lamplight Christmas decorations.
The ice on the right is what’s outside today
I said sure. He took a few shots, got our information and we all went on our way. Imagine everyone’s surprise the next morning when we woke to find some of ourselves on the front page of the morning paper. It was a big picture and above the fold!
Even today the photo is great, the memory a cherished one, but the point of the story is a building you cannot see in the picture, the reason we were even on the tour. It was (was because while the building is still there the school is no longer in operation) St Patrick’s School. Run by the Daughters of Charity this tiny not upscale community school took it upon themselves to implement a rarely utilized, because it was so much work to put in place, form of education. Just before we landed there (the connection you see) head mistress Sister Mary Dorothy decided to trash regular grade by grade reading and math and put each and every student on an individually guide path. That meant testing each one, sorting them out, matching like groups up with a teacher and making a workable schedule, all while avoiding chaos. It was daunting. But she did it. And we were lucky enough to jump in at the right moment.
We tried a private school with Emily which was a bad fit. Then public school for a year and a half until we’d had enough. Home school was for religious exemptions only, not our thing. We heard about St Patrick’s from friends and since it was on Donny’s way to work (ride with Dad to school) decided to give it a try. It was everything we could have wished for and more. We aren’t Catholic but the community embraced us. They elected me President of the Home and School Association (the first non-Catholic ever) and a few years later Donny became Chairman of the school board (again first non-Catholic).
The next school year was to be Donald’s kindergarten year but he was way past that curve. Plus St Patrick’s did not even have kindergarten. Sister Mary Dorothy told us to have him independently tested and provided the scores were good she’d take him as a first grader. Of course his scores were off the chart. He was in but even in an IGE he was such an anomaly that he had his own reading teacher.
We stayed with St Patrick’s until we moved to the Outer Banks. With one tiny exception. When Emily reached middle school age she decided that she might like public school better. More things to do. After much discussion we withdrew and enrolled in the brand new local middle school. Memory is hazy but I think maybe half a day, maybe less, and we were back at St. Patrick’s.
Our last chapter with St Patrick’s came when Andrew reached kindergarten age. Well almost kindergarten age. That was the problem. He was like Donald, academically more than ready, but his birthday was three weeks past the cut off date for Dare County kindergarten enrollment. Next year we were told. Donny was still commuting to Richmond at the time and so he took Andrew with him, and with Sister Mary Dorothy’s blessing, enrolled him in St Patrick’s for a week. Then brought him home, transferring him into the Dare County system.
There’s more much more to our education journey. You will be reading the more.