Wednesday, February 17, 2010

School Hunting

Yesterday, Elise, Nacho and I rode the van downtown to get some errands done:

  • Deposit some checks 
  • Get some cash
  • Replace the tiny screw in Elise's eyeglasses
  • Do the grocery
  • Visit the market to get some fruits
We did the first three then got some burgers and spaghetti from Jollibee.  We then decided to take a tricycle to visit the Catholic school by the bay which was managed by nuns.  It is now a university, and had Nursery to College levels.  It felt like a typical Catholic school like St. Theresa's College, or Maryknoll College or St. Paul's College.  The Guidance Counselor for the Elementary levels was very nice and competent and answered all our questions.  Unfortunately, they could not give us a tour of the Grade 2 classrooms and the Nursery classrooms because there were some visitors rating the school.  We walked out of the school bumping into nuns and Elise had a blast greeting them one by one. 

A private Chinese school was not too far, and we decided to go there as well. We took a tricycle again and headed for it.  We visited the Admissions Office and the Guidance Counselor happily showed off their Grade 1 and Kinder classrooms. As we entered the Kinder classroom, the loud booming voice of the middle aged teacher suddenly exclaimed,"Class, we have visitors!"  The whole class shouted in unison, "GOODAFTERNOONVISITORSWEAREHAPPYTOSEEYOUGODBLESSYOU!!!!!!"  Nacho froze.  Ana slowly backed up against the wall.  The teacher then shoved the three of us into a monoblock chair each and motioned for us to take a seat.  She continued her lesson and flashed some words written on illustration boards and carefully wrapped with plastic covers.  The class read them one by one,"THIRTEEN!!! EIGHTEEN!!! TWENTY!!! FIFTEEN!!!" The teacher shouted and stomped her foot,"DON'T SHOUT!!!!"

Our guide had a worried look on her face and slowly inched her way to the front of the class.  She carefully put away the three foot wooden stick that was leaning against the teacher's table.  I glanced at one girl who was facing the wall with her hands on her sides and another one just in front of me who was seated with his cheek on the table... his eyes half-closed showing his eyeballs doing R.E.M. and with something dripping out of his mouth.....

"Okay na," I whispered to the Guidance Counselor.  I think I saw enough. No way is Nacho going to be in that class! She showed us two other younger classes - where Nacho would be if and when he studies there. The teachers looked more relaxed, and the children were actually gathered around them fondly.  I wouldn't mind Nacho being in those two later classes.  Meanwhile, Elise did not like the Grade 2 classroom.  According to her, it "felt weird."

There was one last private school we wanted to take a look. It was a school that had relocated from the city to the suburbs, very near the hotel. An ideal location. We took a jeep that was going to San Jose and just asked to be dropped by the street that would lead us to the school.  A tricycle stopped and an old man who was driving cheerfully drove us to the school and offered to wait for us so he could take us back, since there were sparse tricycles there.  We arrived and the whole school was made of pawid and bamboo.  They were still constructing and so the playground was indoors.  The classrooms were very simple and very down to earth, but the materials were acceptable.  The lady who showed us around also emphasized that they were strictly Catholic - they say the Angelus, the Three O'Clock Prayer and pray one decade of the Holy Rosary each day.  They also have First Friday Mass every month.

The Chinese school was the most expensive.

The little school in the suburbs was nearest to us.

The school ran by nuns looked like the most stable one. They seemed to know what they were doing.

I need to find out:

- Are there any clubs/sports teams that Elise can join?
- What are the arts and crafts available for them?
- In the Nursery level, what is the Teacher-Student ratio?
- How do the playgrounds look like?
- How guarded are the entrances and exits?
- Is there a canteen?
- What is the schedule like?
- Are there many teachers, like one per subject?
- How heavy is the homework? 
- How long have the schools been around?
- From where are the teachers?

Entrance tests will be in March. So all these would have to wait till the next visit. So far, it seems like Elise likes the one run by nuns. It's the farthest from us... but in Puerto Princesa, nothing is really very far.

Mr. Tricycle Driver took us to the nearby market where we bought veggies and bought a few things from the small grocery.  Nacho was asleep the whole time, so I carried him while Elise brought all the bags.  Another tricycle took us back to the hotel, and by that time, we were covered with red and brown dust from all the open air riding.

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