|Liv's teacher takes amazing photos of the class *there's a Romeo & Juliet in her class!*|
Some time went by and I found a school nearby that I've driven past for years but for some reason I always thought it was out of our league financially and we would be denied admission due to not being French citizens. I sort of dismissed it and focused on finding a good pre-school. When we found Camelot Kids Pre-school, I fell in love. I began meeting parents who knew people whose kids went to the French school but they all spoke French. The owner of Liv's pre-school told me about an open house in December of 2012. We went just to satisfy my curiosity, totally under the impression the school would be too expensive. Just driving up to the campus I was struck by how stimulating the campus was. Unlike most LA schools, there are no prison style fencing. The grounds are on six acres uptop a hill which gives it a sense of solitude away from the city. There is an organic garden that is tended by the students and the local community. The buildings are historically protected 1960s modern designed by famous architect John Lautner. I loved the concept that the children learn at different paces. So the kids with a French background don't have an advantage over non-French speaking kids. As a matter of fact, most of the kids that come from French speaking homes may understand it well but aren't speaking French confidently yet. The teachers said they usually become fluent around 1st and 2nd grade. It was astonishing to hear children speak French so effortlessly. I expected to only see French kids but there were Korean, African, Haitian, Swedish, Japanese, Hispanic all happy and eager to say Bonjour to us. I am so used to LA pissy attitude from kids that I was shocked to encounter such politeness and genuine courtesy. I know I may over-talk this school but honestly, I invite anyone to attend their open house and tell me if you aren't blown away by the history, the philosophy, the down-to-Earth feeling, the community awareness, the academic curriculum, so many awesome activities about the school will make you a believer. The tuition was pricey but not as expensive as other schools. I also loved the idea of Liv attending one school for her entire academic career. It makes her learning consistent and puts less pressure on me finding good schools later. I put Liv on the waiting list and was disheartened to discover she was on the 3rd tier list. The way the school works is priority is given to French students *one or more parent must speak French or have European citizenship* of course siblings are given priority admission, then other International students are on the second waiting list and folks like me with no French language are on the third list. The school only allows admission to non-French speaking students up to Kindergarten since the learning of a language is most effective during a child's first five years. I was hopeful but also nervous. The first year went by in a blink and by the following year I was sweating. We put her back on the waiting list but we were still at the bottom waiting in limbo. I was a mess when they finally called me for her interview last January. I was planning to send Liv to Camelot Kids full-time but I decided to continue part-time so we could save for the French school. We reached out and met parents from the French school. We asked people to put in a good word for us. We did as much as we could without a cash bribe. In hindsight, I didn't need to worry as much as I did because the school has three pre-school classes *close to 40 spots* and we were a perfect fit for the school. I am sure they seek students of different nationalities, students who show a desire to learn and parents who are committed to their kid's education. It's important to showcase your personality, for example, I don't have a French background but I'm still very knowledgeable about France and spending the summer there with Olivia was helpful. I still stressed out when we didn't hear anything and we started thinking about a plan B. There aren't that many French multilingual schools but people told me about charter schools *I wasn't so into the idea of lottery based admission* and top public schools in good neighborhoods *but really lacked diversity* Our hearts were set on the French school so we were willing to stay on the wait list another year with our fingers crossed. Well, just around the time to re-register Liv in Camelot Kids we got a phone call that Liv was accepted!
It took almost three years of waiting to get Liv into this dream school. I love her teachers! So far she already has made new friends and lucky for us, she has no qualms about speaking French aloud *she's much better at pronouncing her R's than I am* I have phrasebooks, iPad apps and my friend, Fanny is tutoring me once a week via Skype so I hope to keep up with her so we can practice together at home. I have already memorized the days of the week and the months of the year!
|Her first visit to her classroom last month|
|She loves her new playground|
Liv's school is best described by their core values:
- First and foremost, academic excellence.
- Collaboration, communication and community.
- Commitment to the curriculum.
- Utmost respect for all individuals within the school community.
- Cultural diversity.
- Intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness.
Thanks for all the support and well-wishers, we are so happy to share this adventure with you. Bonne chance!