“Why We Chose Our School”
Charter, Private, and Public
By Peyton Robertson
Our personal charter school success story began as probably many in our neighborhood and surrounding areas do: a stressful, race-to-wait lottery draw.
My husband and I received elementary educations at our respective neighborhood public schools, and we envisioned this would be the same path our children would take. There is something so nice, familiar—Rockwellian—about being surrounded at school with children you ride bikes with, build forts with, and work a lemonade stand with.
But once we started to research our options, we became instantly disillusioned with our neighborhood public school choice in South Park. And as we began to learn more about the flexibility of the charter school model versus the traditional method, we became excited about the future.
We’re fortunate enough to have both of our children enrolled at Urban Discovery Academy, a charter school that uses project-based learning as a teaching methodology, which means learning through real-world experiences. This was very important to us.
The school’s curriculum includes frequent field trips to museums in Balboa Park, excursions to San Diego Dance Theatre’s Trolley Dances series, hikes along Torrey Pines, and a host of fun, interactive on-campus activities. I want our children to see and experience things outside the four walls of their classroom—and they’ve been able to do this by attending a charter. With Urban Discovery Academy’s brand-new, innovative campus set to open this fall in the East Village, students will have even more opportunity to explore the community around them in an urban area of San Diego that is bursting with creative energy.
By Kanani Masterson
I grew up in Solana Beach, which had excellent options for public schools, but my parents chose to send me to private schools (The Children’s School and La Jolla Country Day School). I think I did a lot better academically and was able to participate in more sports and activities because of the smaller environment. I was also able to earn an academic scholarship for USC, thanks to the support and encouragement I received while there.
Currently, our family lives in Bankers Hill. My husband, John, and I love the urban feel of our neighborhood coupled with the proximity of Balboa Park. We weren’t excited about the public school options, though, and our “one and done” only-child plan meant private schools were an option for us, financially. We did research charter schools and lottery options (like Explorer Elementary) for comparison; however, when we started the actual application process, it turned out to be more stressful and time-consuming than we imagined. So we ended up only applying to two private schools—LJCDS and Francis Parker.
We ultimately chose Parker because of the proximity to our house, the charming lower school campus, and the fact that it requires school uniforms. We feel like it’s a good equalizer for kids to not have the pressure of what you wear on a daily basis. Parker’s take on it is that they feel like the individual’s personality should be emphasized over the outer appearance, which I think is great, especially for a girl.
By Carrie Todd
Since we live on the border of the Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch high school zones, we received a letter from the San Diego Unified School District letting us know we actually had a choice of which high school we wanted our child to attend. Most families in San Diego don’t get that option; they must “choice” into a different school and hope it goes through.
As a graduating eighth grader from Wangenheim Middle School last year, our daughter expressed her desire to attend Mira Mesa High School, because “all of my friends are going there.” Of course, this argument fell on deaf ears. What was most important to us were the academics and reputation of the school she (and, in another two years, our son, Trey) would attend. After researching the two schools, my husband, Phil, and I felt Mira Mesa was the better choice for our kids.
We found that the school offered a variety of academic programs and resources, including a long list of AP classes beginning in the ninth grade. While it may not be ranked as high as Scripps Ranch, Mira Mesa isn’t that far behind. Further, the racial and cultural diversity of the student body was very attractive to us. As a biracial family, we felt it important to expose our daughter to this early on, to better prepare her for life in the real world.
Lastly, Mira Mesa offers an array of sports programs. Kiara was sure she wanted to do “something,” and found her home in girls’ water polo. As a youth football player, our son also looks forward to the opportunity to play high school football at Mira Mesa. At the end of the day, Phil and I have no regrets about the choice we made for our kids. We see academic and social growth daily, which solidifies our feeling that we made the right decision.