We speak to Dr. Kandace Williams the founding superintendent, at Clarion School about what parents should look for when choosing a new school.
Why do you think prospective parents are less receptive in sending their child to a new school?
It is difficult to make a decision based on the promises of others. When there is no physical building, teachers, or students to see, parents have to trust themselves and take a leap of faith - based on the promises of others. Therefore, they need to determine whether or not they trust the people that represent the school, rather than the physical representations which are not available.
What do you see as the ‘pros’ of sending children to a new school?
There is a significant advantage in being part of building a true community when everyone is new. There is increased opportunity for input as there is no one to say, “We do it this way.” As everyone is new, everybody is coming in at the same time. You have the ability to start new traditions and make new friends.
What are the ‘cons?’
Along with the numerous opportunities with a new school, there is an uncertainty that exists. Will the school deliver what it has promised? Will my child have friends?
What are the questions you think parents should ask of a new school and what should they look for on their tour?
Parents should ask about the following:
- Teacher’s qualifications
- How the school administration prepares teachers at a new school so they hit the ground running
- Class size
- Time spent in classroom v. the type of learning done in other areas
- How much emphasis that on visual and performing
- How does the school communicate with parents
- What languages are offered
The “tour” of a new school is usually in an office with architectural plans and site plans to introduce the physical school. On the “tour,” parents should ask about security measures, facilities, playground learning areas, and what makes the facilities stand out in comparison to other schools.
How would you suggest parents go about assessing the suitability of a new school in the absence of KHDA inspection results, parent testimonials, etc?
Parents need to understand the educational methods and philosophies of a school. They need to feel that their child would fit and that they would fit in this new community of learners. They should ask questions about how welcome the parents are in the school and what types of opportunities exist for parental involvement. They need to know what type of activities (in addition to academics) that the school offers. They should ask about how discipline is handled and how the school extends and supports a child. Additionally, they should ask for the level of education of the teacher (i.e., do they have a Masters degree?).
Remember, how you are treated when you meet the superintendent or principal and other representatives of the school is a good indication of how your child will be treated once they are enrolled.