"Matthew and Lauren are parents on a mission. Their older son, Andrew, was meeting developmental milestones ahead of time, and they were hoping to find a school setting that would challenge him and nurture his strengths. They had a range of choices—from traditional public to Montessori to private school—and ultimately found the rigor, student diversity, and community they were looking for in their local public school. It’s clear they made the right choice, and they continue to focus on setting up opportunities to support Andrew’s academic and social development. At home, Lauren (who stays home full-time with their younger son) does a great job keeping Andrew interested in learning by seeking out resources that speak to his interests, like anatomy and other STEM activities."
-Arlene Sanchez and Jessica DaSilva-Fisher, Boston Navigators
“I've worked in healthcare most of my career, and I've worked with seniors most of my career. If you're going to work in this industry, Hebrew SeniorLife is the organization you want to work for. It’s an unbelievable place to work. I’m the executive director of assisted living.
In the beginning, choosing a preschool for our older son, Andrew, was daunting. There are so many choices, and you have to start that process fairly early. I think that's surprising to some new parents. You want to have them in a place that you trust and feel good about, but you also want them in a place that's going to challenge them and give them the tools that they need. My wife, Lauren, left a very successful career to be a stay at home mom. It was really hard for her to let Andrew just go off to anybody.
We looked at everything. We visited one school that was supposedly for gifted children. Our Navigator, Arlene, suggested that we ask them how they deal with failure and how they're going to help students learn to fail. It was an interesting way of thinking about it. How do you prepare a child's young mind to handle their failure? Because you learn more from failure than from success in a lot of ways. So here we are in an open house in this beautiful school. It’s a private school, very expensive. There's got to be 60 or 75 parents in the audience and it's a Q&A session. And I asked them that exact question and they were stunned. They just looked at me. It was really awkward. But the reality is, they hadn't even considered failure as a tool for education. That told me a lot.
We ended up choosing the public preschool system, which a lot of parents in our town do not. But to us it just made a whole lot of sense. With the high taxes we pay here, the amount of resources in that school are incredible. It has the latest and greatest technology. The curriculum is obviously set by the state. It’s a very diverse school, which we really wanted. They serve a lot of special needs students, which is exceptional—that’s our perspective as parents. And in the town system, we’ve found a seasoned group of professional educators who are well compensated, working in well-funded schools. There’s a lot of accountability around them, a tremendous amount of experience, and a lot of access points to the parents.
They’re in constant communication. They're incredibly responsive. They're always inviting us in. You know what they're working on every single week, and they communicate their expectations of you as the parent helping the child continue their learning at home. If there are behavioral issues or things of concern showing up, they're good about reaching out and working collaboratively to solve those challenges.
It’s not that everything has been perfect. We’ve had a few concerns, and they’ve been super responsive, which I really appreciate. Andrew is highly intelligent, and he’s a super creative and inquisitive kid. I think this year, which is his second year in preschool, he's a little bit bored. And he only goes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—the other days he’s home with his brother and his mom and they're doing field trips and having fun. Lauren is amazing at keeping him engaged with learning at home. With our new Navigator, Jessica, Lauren’s been working with him to identify more letters and sounds when they’re out and about, and he’s exploring STEM activities. He says he’s looking forward to kindergarten. I think it will be cool for him to be in a much larger building and have a lot more stuff going on. All of a sudden the number of kids that are in school with him will explode. And that'll be challenging in a different way.
The cool thing about working with a Navigator is that Arlene was able to help us make the decision with data, which we might not have had access to or known how to obtain on our own. That was super helpful. And she took the time to ask us questions and get to know who Andrew was as a kid, and help us frame our search in terms of what we wanted for our individual child. We went into this knowing that any school could be the one. We didn't rule things out based on an older building or this or that. We really tried to focus on what was happening inside the classroom, and what made sense for Andrew. And we feel really good about our choice.”