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    My child goes to a public school, to a Jefferson County Public School, (JCPS). I am not moving to Oldham County or Southern Indiana for the “better school system.” I am not paying for a private Catholic or Christian School. My child is going to a public school, like I did growing up. According to the general lore of Louisville, this makes me a “bad” parent.

    I have my faults as a parent, just like the next person, but I think a small part of me started believing that I truly was a "bad parent" because I sent my child to a JCPS. I was a little unsure about what was to come when we decided to send my son to his school. I remember hearing so many voices telling me where to go, what to do, and what's ultimately best. Eventually those confusing voices started dying down, and we were able to decide what we should do. 

    Here's why we came to the decision we did:

    1. We live in Jefferson County: Well this was a no-brainer; we didn't want to pack up and move because we love living in this city and the community we are a part of. Plus I hate moving.  If you look in our garage (really, please don't) it looks like we are still moving in after 6 years.

    2. I love the community: Not only do I love the community we live in, but I love the community my child has within his school. The staff, including the principal knows who my son is. They know he's full of energy. They know he's a social butterfly. They know he likes to make jump-shots with rolled-up paper towels in the bathroom trash can. Every time I step foot in his school he has conversations with the staff, including the principal (which started as a kindergartener), and those relationships have only grown.

    3. I love the diversity: My son has been exposed to so many different cultures. I believe this really can only strengthen him if raised in the right way.

    4. I like to have a choice: It's nice to have a choice of where he could go to school. After touring around Louisville, we knew that his school was right. We could see that through the leadership of the principal that this school was in great hands. She realizes the treasure that our kids are to parents, that "they are our heart pieces," as a friend recently pointed out. 

    5. We couldn't afford private school: Another no-brainer. A quick look at our checking account, and we could cross that one off our list. 

    6. JCPS is at the top: We have 3 high schools ranked high in the top 10 in the state at number 1, 2, and 5. I want him to go to one of these.

    7. We get to help: To be able to play a part in continuing to help advance JCPS education by simply playing a caring part feels right. 

    That caring part can transfer over in many different ways, and by doing so selfishly can help my child, but also others, and ultimately other children's futures. 

    Here are ways that that you can play a part in JCPS, to help keep growing and improving Louisville education all while you are investing in your own child's education, and ultimately a small part of his life:

    1. Join your PTA: The PTA benefits everyone. They fight for funding, quality teachers, and capabilities for the school to thrive. Check with your own school to get started and join.

    2. Volunteer in your child's classroom: Simply popping in the classroom for an hour when the teacher needs help, or even making an impromptu visit so he or she can hand you assignments to copy is a great, simple way to help. Plus, when I do I can check to see if my son has been making any 3-pointers in the bathroom recently.

    3. Volunteer for a special event: Chaperone a field trip (hey, it's also an inexpensive way to get to see a theater production or go to the zoo), help decorate for a classroom celebration, donate needed items, etc.

    4. Donate: Speaking of donating....donate your time, talents, and of course the almighty dollar.

    5. Develop a partnership with your child's teacher: Check out the Parent Portal. Outside of a face-to-face introduction this is the quickest way to start a relationship with her.

    6. Participate: Cheer on the basketball players, put on your dancing shoes for the father/daughter dance, pass out ribbons during field day, etc. 

    7. Start with you: Remember that a lot of your child's success begins and ends at home with you as their parent.

    Here's general information for all parents new to this school system.

    I just want to encourage all of you out there that may be guilt-stricken, or even worried that you made the right decision about your child's school in Jefferson County; they are in good hands, seriously. 

    I have proof, and it is in the form of a strawberry-blonde, blue-eyed, happy second-grade boy.

    Cover photo courtesy of shutterstock.com/debra millet

    Megan McDougal's picture

    About Megan McDougal

    I am a homebody at heart who would wear yoga pants everywhere if it was socially acceptable.

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