Monday, August 1, 2011

Schools & School Resources

So we get a lot of emails off this blog asking about schools and school selection. And not that we don't love getting your emails every day (I do so love checking the blog inbox), we just thought it might be beneficial to address some of the reoccurring questions in a blog post!

I always tell people that I love living here, and it's no lie. With 3 major cities at our disposal, there is so much to take advantage of here. Now listen, I did my best to answer these FAQs. But bear in mind these are my personal opinions, with the input of some other mommies around that I adore and trust. I definitely recommend continuing to ask around and doing some online research. And, of course, nothing beats a visit in person to a school or asking a recommendation from someone you really know and trust. Not that you can't trust us....but we don't know everything (I know, hard to believe!).

FAQ #1. Can you make a recommendation on good preschools in Chapel Hill?

We get this question the most since, let's face it, while we cover a lot of the Triangle between Sarah C. and myself, the name is "Mom in Chapel Hill." Also, we clearly have toddlers ourselves.

And I say that it really all depends on what you are looking for: pricetag, interests, type of learning, student/teacher ratio you want. Start with these links:
FAQ #2. Can you make a recommendation on any of the particular schools (elementary, middle, high) in Chapel Hill/Carrboro?

Chapel Hill has great schools all around, honestly. Carrboro Elementary is popular because of it's artistic nature and its Spanish-immersion program for elementary school kids! Carrboro High is fairly new, which means smaller extracurricular programs right now, but still does great. Overall this area is ranked very high on a nation-wide list and people move here because of the schools. Chapel Hill High has a great program with lots of AP and other accelerated programs.

Don't discount Chatham County though. Things are moving and shaking in this particular County. Perry Harrison Elementary gets a lot of praise, and Woods Charter School (which is lottery based) is a place people love. Plus, a new high school is slated to go in as a lot of the wealth from the Chapel Hill township slips from Orange to Chatham county.

The most popular and talked-about private schools in Chapel Hill are St. Thomas More and the Emerson Waldorf School. Again, it all depends on what you are looking for.

FAQ #3. Would you ever consider living in Durham? I don't hear great things about the schools...

(Honestly, this is a cut & paste direct from a bunch of emails, we didn't make these questions up.)

Durham is really up and coming. It has a lot to offer and we find ourselves going there more and more as it continues to renovate and improve itself. If your kids are older, I am not sure this is helpful but the word on the street is that the schools will be getting better as more income moves into the area and as Durham continues its renaissance. Check out those links above (especially www.greatschools.org), though, to see ratings, reviews, and details. If your kids are younger, I personally think that Durham is going to undergo some major improvements over the years. A lot of the elementary schools (such as Pearsontown and Hillandale) are already ranking higher in the past few years. And middle schools and high schools are trying to keep up by investing.

By the way, when it comes to preschools, Durham Mothers Club also offers a preschool fair in the fall. Again, look at early to mid-October.

If you want to consider private schools Durham Academy is the creme de la crop. But Durham has some other great private school alternatives, too.

FAQ #4. So what about Cary, Raleigh, and Apex?

Well I am not going to lie: that's a super-broad question. But, again, one we get asked a lot, so here it goes...

The thing to really keep in mind about these areas is that they offer a variety of programs and schooling options, including year-round options. Now I personally am a big fan of year-round programs, but not everyone is. But the other major thing to know about these areas is that, in general, they redistrict a lot. So one year your child could be in x program at x school but the next they can go to y. Cary and Apex in particular are seeing some of the biggest population booms in our area, in part because they are great places to live with a lot of brand new affordable development, but this means that they have to reconsider and reassess their school programs a lot more than many other counties and districts.

But check out the same websites listed above to get more details. The Wake County website also tries to make everything transparent and clear, plus there are individual school reviews here: www.wcpss.net. Sarah and I have also been told by a blog-reader friend that this website here- www.corestandards.org - explains the new national standards that Wake County schools are going to be adopting.

I would really like to direct you all to Carolina Parent's fantastic Education Guide. Right now there 2010-2011 version can be found online here. This link provides more real stats and useful information than we can here at MiCHill. We love and appreciate being your first-stop resource, but also know that we can't tell you everything! So check out this online guide.

And also give us your comments - you can weigh in on this blog right here for everyone to read! Any thoughts you have for parents who are searching for schools, relocating, or otherwise need-to-know as the school season starts would be great to have!

3 Comments:

At August 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Heather V said...

As a teacher in our area and also a parent, a big thanks for this fantastic post and resources.

 
At August 2, 2011 at 9:40 PM , Anonymous MollyB said...

Hi! I have a small correction about the Durham Mothers Club Preschool Fair. Our fair is open to any one, but our Preschool Directory which is published annually in December is only available to our members.

Thanks!
Molly Brown
DMC VP

 
At August 2, 2011 at 9:57 PM , Blogger allison c said...

Thanks, Molly! It is a great service, and so happy for the correction! I just noticed that the website is just a front page with a members-log in for more access? Did I get that wrong?

 

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