Today I headed out to continue the search for the perfect school for my daughter. I saw a banner over the weekend promoting a new charter school. I immediately checked it out on the web, and was super excited about the great find.
The school sounded perfect: science, engineering, and did I mention, FREE!? My daughter absolutely loves problem-solving, and is very skilled in 3-Dimensional thinking and building. I thought this would be perfect. She could use her skills, hone her skills, and be celebrated for her intelligence.
Oh, everything was working out perfectly.
I filled out the online application. I called the school. Three times. On two different days. No response. I checked out their calendar. I saw that they were hosting a registration session at their main campus. TODAY! Great, that must be why they're not answering the phone--they're busy chatting with parents, answering questions, and giving high-fives to kids!
Oh, I'm so naive!
I headed out into the great outdoors of San Antonio. First stop: the campus of interest. I wanted to make sure the drive to school would be reasonable, and that the school building had windows. I spoke briefly with the janitor; he is the hero of this story. He was helpful (opened the door, even though it was locked, and they were not open for business), he gave me tons of relevant information (the back story of how the charter school came to acquire use of the ex-Catholic school, and that he was nervous the charter school wouldn't have everything up to code by August), and he let me poke around to see if the building was up to my standards.
The building was fine. It was an operating school until 2012, so it just needed a little cleaning and maintenance. Solid building, somewhat scary neighborhood, across train tracks that may involve a 10 minute wait from time to time. Most important, it had lots of windows and it didn't smell weird. So I was fine with it.
Now I just needed to meet the staff, the administration, get a feel for what the school was all about. Onto the main campus.
It's just too bad that the folks who build websites and do the marketing aren't the ones running all these schools, businesses, countries, apartment complexes. I mean really--why can't things really be as great as a graphic designer imagines it to be? Why can't a school be as amazing as their slogan and web copy?
After a long fight with my GPS and several closed roads (road construction), I ended up at the military base, at Brooks Academy's main campus. Hurray! I made it!
I walked in, composing myself from the frustrating drive.
A few volunteers asked if I was here for registration. They directed me down the hall. And then I spoke to a gentleman with a clipboard. He asked for my child's name and then looked back at me, "Did you receive an acceptance letter?"
"Well you have to be accepted to register."
And that's when I wish I could mind-meld, so that someone could comprehend everything that has happened up to this point. All the schools I've looked at, all the hope, all the time I've wasted.
He told me to sit and wait for the registrar who would have more answers. I waited for 2 minutes. Then returned and asked him if he could just answer a few basic questions:
-Do you have any room in Kindergarten at the downtown campus?
Maybe. *shuffles papers, looking for something that will never be there.* Here, take a business card.
-No one answers this phone number.
Oh, that's because our office staff is on vacation.
[Business Faux Pas #103808042: Do not run a big advertising campaign and then walk away from your phone.]
-If my daughter is accepted, will I need to return here to register?
-Wow, you guys are really efficient.
At this point the registrar appeared. I walked over to her and repeated the conversation above.
Except she wouldn't look me in the eyes. Which was disconcerting. But, I suppose by this time, I was pretty disconcerting to look at!
Realizing that the staff would never see parents or students as clients with value, I resolved that I would never need to make this dusty drive again.
And so the school hunt continues.
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