We’ve lived in Kennett for over a decade now.  Like most people who move across the border from Delaware, we did it for a list of reasons, including the schools.  We also said to ourselves that if we ever felt the need, we would move our kids to private school- whatever was best for them.

Both of my kids have attended Kennett Consolidated schools- James starting in fifth grade, John starting in first.  John is finishing his Junior year at Kennett High School, and we only have one more year as Kennett Parents left.  I have to say, I really could not be happier with our experience.  James, who needed an IEP during school, had great support from the learning support specialists along the way, and overall, most teachers worked very well with the accommodations he needed – especially substituting typing for handwriting, which was critical.  John has found teachers at every level who have mentored and guided him along the way, and he found a real home in the music department at the high school.

John wasn’t interested in music lessons in elementary school, and as a victim of forced piano lessons myself, I wasn’t going to revisit that issue.  However, freshman year, he decided to take music theory and keyboards (the piano).  Rapidly, he fell in love with the instrument, and I found myself with a kid asking for a piano for his birthday when other kids were asking for an Xbox.    Fast forward a year, and John had joined jazz band and at the urging of the band director Mr. Romano, started playing in a jazz trio with his friends Jake and Dennon.  They were good, and now a year later, they are frankly, great.  They have started playing paid gigs in the community as well- a statement of how far they have come in a short period of time.

Where many parents are worried about how much screen time their kids have, my kid has largely given up video games for music.  When we went to London, John wanted to go to TiN Pan Alley and we went to the Steinway store where he played the pianos for about an hour.  His favorite music on his iPhone is Louis Armstrong and Cole Porter tunes.  His friends say things like “All the best music is from the 40’s.”  Now they also like a bunch of other eclectic music- they are still teenagers- but I would never have thought in a million years that this would be where we would be now.

I have been incredibly happy with our experience with the Kennett schools.  I’m not sure John would have gotten the opportunities he had to discover piano or have a jazz trio had he gone to a private school in Delaware.   Academically, both boys were challenged and had teachers that took a genuine interest in them as people, as well as students.  That kind of caring is rare, and really can’t be bought.

I sit on the professional development committee and tech committee for the school district as a parent/community member.  Even behind the scenes, I see faculty and staff trying to make thoughtful and forward thinking decisions that look at continuous improvement in a fast paced world.  For example, the District is looking at the scope and sequence of skills like online research and understanding plagiarism, so that it can be taught at the earliest stages and reinforced over time, now that kids can access so much more information online and need to parse quality resources with a careful eye, long before they would ever have a course on critical literature.  The decisions being made look across the whole curriculum, so as much as possible, skills are introduced early and mastered over longer period of time, not isolated to Elementary School, or Middle School or High School.

There are always challenges.  Not everything is perfect, and in a world where technology evolves almost daily, keeping up and on top of things is difficult in the best of circumstances.  We are so fortunate to have administrators and teachers that are taking a look at the big picture as well as the day to day, and making thoughtful decisions about everything they do to make sure our kids are as prepared with foundational skills that will serve them well, even when things are in flux.

I’m incredibly happy with the education both of my kids have received at Kennett schools, and I’m amazed at the opportunities they have both had to meet inspiring teachers and staff who take an interest in the kids beyond the classroom.  That’s what makes our schools so special.

Thank you to everyone- parents, teachers, students, staff, administrators- we’re all in this together, and while there are always challenges, it’s important to also remember how very lucky we all are to be in this together.