My husband and I recently made the huge decision to pull our 6-year-old daughter from a NY public school and move our family and business to the Mad River Valley. Why? The schools, the community, the lifestyle. But first and foremost – the smaller schools and the understanding our daughter would remain at her elementary school in Warren until the end of sixth grade. Why was this important to us? Because we’ve seen first-hand the profound and life-changing social effects of a larger middle school beginning in sixth grade on a young child’s personality. Having parented our older son through a huge grade level of 750 kids in middle through high school we knew our daughter deserved better. The social changes that happen in the fifth/sixth grade are huge; the potential bullying and social influences that begins in these larger schools is debilitating to a child, their whole schooling life. Children should be in smaller more nurturing elementary schools close to their families and homes for as long as humanly possible!
Our daughter in the larger NY public elementary school was completely lost in the system, with three other kindergarten classes at her school alone, 25-plus kids in each class, four other elementary schools in the district and the new ever-increasing academic expectations/pressures of the school were debilitating for her. Any kind of fun and interesting extracurricular programs like dance or Spanish were only offered before or after school, never “in school” like we are experiencing here at Warren Elementary. The day we pulled her out midyear and placed her in Warren Elementary was the day we gave her childhood back! Our daughter is thriving in every way possible; the love and care of the teachers at Warren and the unique teaching and learning methods have renewed her love of school, something that had been severely affected at a very early age.
Last January when we decided to move to the community permanently (having skied here and owned property here for the last 30-plus years), it was because of our direct experience with this incredible community, which we believe begins in the smaller schools. The Valley kids are so deeply connected to their community and as a result they are engaged, loving, kind, interested and curious kids. They meet at the rivers after school, hike up Sunset Rock, ice skate at the local rink or lake and ski in the winter together.
Would we have moved here knowing our daughter would potentially need to be bused outside of the community from fifth grade? Absolutely not!
We have since bought a family home in the village of Warren, moved a thriving small business to the village of Waitsfield and moved our entire life here! We are the family with young kids that this community is in need of and we are choosing to move here for the smaller schools and the simpler lifestyle we can teach our children while they are young! But the changes that are being proposed are very worrying to us. Yes, this is a very expensive state to move to, but we believe we saved our daughter’s schooling life by relocating here, which is priceless! This community is second to none because of the smaller schools; this community is so special as a result. We would warn against the changes that are being proposed: Families like ours will not continue to move here if they are put in place.
The Bakers live in Warren.