A Parent's Point of View
Open House Presentation January 15th, 2014 by KF parent Greg Pellegrini:
Thanks for allowing me to speak tonight.
As Mr. Humphrey’s said, my name is Greg Pellegrini. My presence on this campus dates back 41 years to when I was a five year old kindergarten student sitting in what is now Ms. Julie Malta’s PP4 classroom. The year was 1973. I can assure you that at no time in the past 41 years, either as a student or a parent, has anyone trusted me with a microphone in this gym! Not to worry though, this is no time for jokes or embarrassing stories, I am here on a much more serious topic. Besides, I promised Kie yesterday that I would behave.
First of all, you should know that I am very passionate about education and feel that the selection of an educational institution is one of the most important decisions parents will make for their children. My goal here tonight is to try to give you a little bit of my perspective on education, explain what drew me to Kehoe France Northshore and a few of my observations on the educational environment here at this school.
Personal Background –
While I don’t want this speech to be about me and my family, I think it will help those of you who don’t know me to get a better feel for the basis of my opinions if I give you just a brief personal background.
I was educated here on the Northshore at River Forest Academy (the predecessor to Kehoe France Northshore). I went on to graduate from St. Paul’s. I have a degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from LSU. My wife Lisa is also from the Northshore, attended Saint Scholastica and attended LSU for both undergrad and Dental School. Her undergraduate degree is in micro biology. Together we have 6 children ages 5 – 15, 5 currently attend KFN and our 15 year old is a Sophomore at SSA, she also attended KFN from Pre-K through 7th grade.
In addition to raising and educating our six children here at Kehoe France, I served on the Board of Trustees for Saint Paul’s School for 9 years and my wife is currently a member of the Board of Directors at Saint Scholastica. Suffice it to say we are heavily involved in the educational system despite not being trained educators ourselves.
Our Personal Experience –
So with that background, I would like to speak a little bit about our personal experience choosing a school. About 11 years ago, we were looking to enroll our first child in pre-k 4 and probably similar to most young parents, began asking friends about schools and gathering information. What we found was that there were definitely differences among the schools. As I tried to make sense of all the information, I found that I was developing opinions on what I thought each school had to offer and what the schools put an emphasis on. We probably seriously investigated 4 schools. One seemed to emphasize discipline and structure over everything else, one was less discipline oriented and emphasized allowing the student to dictate their own path, one was a religious institution and one of course was KFN. My wife and I narrowed it down to two schools and attended their two open houses. I have a very vivid memory of both experiences. Fortunately for us, once we attended the two open houses the choice was very easy, KFN was the school that appealed to us the most. What I remember is Kyle France standing up in front of the group and telling us the following:
(And I am paraphrasing of course) but what I remember that he said was “If you trust us with your child’s education, we promise:
- to teach your child reading writing and arithmetic,
- we will treat them with respect,
- we will hold them accountable for their actions and
- we will demand that they be respectful, use manners, and say yes sir and no sir. “
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, for me and my wife that straightforward approach to education really appealed to us. It sounded like our kids would get a solid education in a structured caring environment where there was an expectation that both the adults and children acted respectfully towards each other. We were sold.
Our Experience Through The Years – So how did it go?
It goes without saying that we have enjoyed our experience at Kehoe enough to have trusted them with all six of our children and even for one of the years all six attended KFN together. I think that might be a record! Makes for an interesting car line trying to unload six children, the book bag, the PE bag, the lunch bag, the occasional science fair project, clay model, DNA Double helix, flat Stanley, canned foods for the food drive, and that darn stuffed monkey we have to drag around all weekend taking pictures, all while making sure that they each are appropriately dressed in their school uniform, or red sweater, or saints jersey, or their spirit shirt, or their silly socks, or their funny hat, or look like their favorite book character and have the snack bag, the math bag, their king cake or birthday cupcakes. So we forgot a few times, no big deal right! I am just glad parents don’t get homework slips or conduct referrals.
In all seriousness, I believe that my children have received a quality education from highly qualified and caring teachers. The curriculum is challenging but it is fair and not overwhelming. Children are expected to learn on their own through homework assignments, but there is ample opportunity for extra help – the teachers are more than willing to give up their time outside of the classroom to help. My children are well behaved but like all children issues arise and I have found the discipline and or response to incidents to be appropriate. While not everyone in a school gets along, to a great extent, these kids travel in large packs both in and out of school indicating an environment of inclusion rather than exclusion. I could go on and on providing specific examples, but with the limited time I have I think the most telling example I can convey is what I see on a daily basis when I visit this campus, which I do practically every day for “carpool”, football, basketball, awards assembly, etc. I see students and faculty and staff and parents smiling, talking, and interacting with one another and generally happy to be involved with this school. To me that speaks volumes to what is going on here all day every day. I just don’t believe you can fake the enthusiasm that I witness.
Life After Kehoe-France –
While it is certainly an important part of the process to consider what life is like while your child is in elementary school, it is equally important to take a look at what life is like for students when they move on to high school. So how do KFN students stack up? It is clear that they stack up very well. Our daughter who is at SSA is in honors and APcourses. She has to work very hard but she performs very well as do her fellow Kehoe France alumni. You don’t have to spend much time reading the newspaper before you run across an article or honor roll list from the numerous local highs schools around to find examples of KFN alumni succeeding in the classroom, on the field or on stage or volunteering in our community. Based upon the information my wife and I have seen, KFN alumni are prepared for the next level of education, they fit in well, and they tend to be very involved with extracurricular activities and make an impact as high school students and beyond.
The Choice is obviously yours and the school you choose must fit for you and your child. I hope I have provided a little bit of help for you as you work through the decision making process and whatever school you choose I sincerely hope you are as happy with your choice as my wife and I have been with Kehoe-France.
Kyle, you made a promise at the open house Lisa and I attended and you and the faculty and staff have certainly kept that promise. It’s been 11 years and you are stuck with me for at least 8 more. Kyle, Kie, Mr. France, faculty and staff, thank you all very much, you all have had an extremely positive impact on my entire family.