September 03, 2005
We're in it. La Rentrée literally means "the reentry" or going back in. What Americans call "Back to School" time.
I give great, big, adoring applause to God for carrying us so lovingly through the first day of French public school for both kids. What courage it took (we prayed hard for that quality, along with many others, for this moment). We dropped Emily off first, got her checked off by her new teacher, saw her into her new classroom, and the door shut with the parents on the outside. Our daughter reports that she promptly burst into tears, although by the time we picked her up for lunch, she was smiling and practically bouncing. She says this was due to seeing us again, but it was clear she hadn't suffered too much during the morning.
We proceeded from the elementary school of Baillargues to the "collège" (middle school: 6th-9th grades), a 5 minute drive or so. This leave-taking stood in stark contrast to the previous one. We didn't get to meet any teachers, didn't get to see any classrooms, didn't get to spend ten minutes hugging our child in the courtyard. Jason had to give us just a quick hug and immediately march up the hill and disappear around the corner of the building all on his own, striding into the unknown with a backpack and his God. All the parents were told in no uncertain terms not to penetrate the gate of the school.
I prayed off and on all morning, not able to concentrate on too much. Both children were picked up at noon, smiling and proclaiming they'd each made a new friend already. Hallelujah!!! It was nice to have a break in the middle of the day, to be able to eat lunch all together (David worked from home on purpose), and to feel the peace, quiet, and cool of home. But it was a bit challenging to get everyone pumped up again enough to go back to school for the afternoon. Another few hours later, the kids were a bit glazed over, but they recovered after a little rest at home.
Meanwhile, I spent three and a half hours in class. I went to the collège and attended three long meetings in a row. In the first, we got to hear the administration speak and answer questions. The principal, the vice principal, the main disciplinarian, and the cafeteria lady. For the second meeting, I headed up to Jason's home room teacher's classroom. His "professeur principal" is named Mr. Bru. I liked his attitude. He's a P.E. teacher. He seems very friendly and strong and straight-forward. He explained all kinds of things about how the school works, and introduced most of the children's other teachers to us. The most interesting name award goes to Madame Stchérbinine, the French teacher. Close runner up is the science teacher, Mr. Guiu. I really don't know how to pronounce that.
It was really hot in the room, and I got an appreciation for how Jason must feel up there during the day. Looking forward to the fall temperatures arriving for that reason (although we swam as a family today and the pool was warmer than in August, so nice).
By the time most of the teachers had introduced themselves and explained their methods and extra materials we'd need and what they expected from the kids, my head was practically exploding from the overwhelming number of things to remember and do and explain to Jason. I hadn't brought enough note paper, and was scribbling in tiny letters all over my one sheet in a mixture of French and English. Things to buy, questions to ask, acronyms and definitions, guidelines, etc. At last we shuffled downstairs to the cafeteria again, for the final gathering: the Ski Trip Meeting. The week-long outing of all the 6th graders won't be until February, but they tacked the informational meeting onto the tail end of the very first day of school because they aim for 100% participation, and they want to give people as much notice as possible, so as to start generating fundraising ideas. Jason's home room teacher happens to be the one who has spearheaded the trip for the past eight years, and led that meeting as well.
I came home hungry and considering taking some Motrin, but quite satisfied that this will be a good school for this year. I've been spending the weekend so far trying to read through all the informational booklets, fill out all the forms and sign in all the required spots.
Some of the acronyms I am supposed to grasp (I might be wrong about some of these, but I'm trying my best):
CDI - Centre de Documentation et d'Information (the school library)
PP - Professeur Principal (home room teacher)
ATP - Accompagnement (or Aide) au Travail Personnel (study habits class once a week)
EPS - Education Physique et Sportive? (P.E.)
SVT - Science de la Vie et de la Terre (earth science and biology)
EG - Education Générale (French and Math)
VS - Vie Scolaire (school life; tardiness, absences, detentions, etc?)
COP - Conseiller d'Orientation Psychologue (career advice and psychological help?)
CPE - Conseiller Principal d'Education (big bad disciplinarian, in charge of lateness and absence and detentions)
VTT - Vélo Tout Terrain (dirt bikes, BMX?)
Fortunately, Jason has no school Monday, so we have an extra day to go over all the tips and label all his notebooks for the various classes.
The learning curve continues for all of us, but we are off to a fabulous start, as fervently requested.
September 3, 2005 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference La Rentrée:
Thanks so much for telling the full story so that I can grasp a bit of what it has been like for all of you. So good to have everyone together for the first days of school. We miss you, love you and support you in these early days.
Posted by: Patricia Taylor | Sep 3, 2005 7:52:08 PM
Wow! So glad to hear it all went well! :-) I was thinking of you this weekend. Praise God!
Posted by: Julie | Sep 5, 2005 2:32:05 AM
We were so glad to hear about the first day of school. And we so missed you at Suzanne and Gary's wedding, but you were definitely in the right place. Praise God!
Posted by: Willow | Sep 5, 2005 4:09:50 AM