From the Capital to Cambridge. Bring it on!

The inherent risk of asking a close to forty-year-old to “blog” is that your author my not have a clue what you are talking about. While in college, there was the new thing called “e-mail.” I remember thinking, “Wow, what a waste of time.” I mean, if you got an account you could then go to the school’s computer lab and pass messages to other people. Of course, they had to go to the computer lab to get your message. I thought, “why not meet the person at the computer lab and talk?” Ah, the wisdom of youth! Additionally, as a father with small children, I am more likely to watch things like “Yo-gabba-gabba” and “Thomas the Train” than I am to follow what is trending on Facebook or who “friended” me on that other thing…..what’s it called…Oh yeah….Twitter. (Not sure…but I think I just mixed those two things up.)   Thus, I am feeling a little odd about being a “blogger.” So I am going to need your help and support during this next year to make this endeavor something worth reading.

That said, I want YOU to drive this blog: your questions, your comments, your interests. If something in my biography or post catches your attention, ask me about it. Ask any and all the questions you like. I am a father, a civil servant, and as of today…I am your resource on Appian Way. I look forward to getting to know you!

This week’s post centers on the transition to Cambridge and more interestingly a quick glimpse into the Cambridge Public Schools from a parent’s perspective.

The first major decision, after sending my acceptance deposit, was where to live in Cambridge. I visited the campus at least twice before June, and had spoken to several Ed school alumni and students just to get a sense of campus and the living options. I was advised to leave my car at home. Parking, I was told, is a nightmare and public transportation is pretty good. Cool, I thought, one less thing. Next was the on-campus/off-campus debate. Should I live close to the Ed School or somewhere in between the Business School, the Kennedy School, and the Ed School?  After all, I may take classes at all three schools at some point while I’m here. Would I want a dorm-type set up or a more family-oriented arrangement? I promptly settled in the middle. I decided to live on-campus in a central location that would give me access to all three schools. I then applied for the Graduate Commons Program. This program is a conscience effort by Harvard to bring together students from all the schools and various disciplines in the university in an attempt to develop deep and meaningful connections. I can’t do the program justice but please check out this video for more information.

The next major decision was schooling for my 7-year-old daughter. I knew money would be tight this year and was not sure if private school would be a feasible option. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) has a very good reputation. I contacted the Family Resource Center to discuss what services were available to me as a relocating parent. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful.

Just as a side note:  As of Sept. 2012, CPS has 12 elementary schools including 10 JK – 5 schools, a Montessori school serving students aged 3 years through grade 5, and a JK – 8 Spanish dual immersion school with three language immersion opportunities in Spanish, Chinese, and Portuguese.

Finally, CPS offers a robust (and reasonably priced) afterschool program, which brings many extracurricular activities to the school. This concept allows the school to expose kids to a wider variety of enrichment activities that would otherwise be logistically impossible. For example, in the course of a week, my daughter gets to participate in dance, soccer, tae kwon doe, piano, art, and swimming. I would never have been able to expose her to this many activities in this short a time while living/working in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.  All this is to say that I have been extremely happy with the decision to place my daughter in Cambridge Public Schools.

A quick note about the Ed School family:  When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of support the Ed School provides to parents. There are parent support groups, a designated area for children in Gutman Library, and a Graduate Commons Program Family Coordinator all available to help not only parents but also kids transition to Cambridge.

I would like to offer this:  If you have children and are wondering what their experience will be like here….just know that the Ed School has been, and continues to be, a warm, family-friendly, and supportive environment.

Ok. Well that is it for this week. I need to get back to my schoolwork. I am looking forward to your questions and feedback!