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"A recent New York Times story on Success Academy — a polarizing charter school network with 35 locations in the city — reports several instances of students who relieved themselves at their desk, rather than a school bathroom. "Former staff members described students in third grade and above wetting themselves during practice tests, either because teachers did not allow them to go to the restroom ... or because the students themselves felt so much pressure that they did not want to lose time on the test," The Times reports. One former teacher told The Times that she heard a Success Academy vice principal from another school "praise the dedication of a child who had wet his pants rather than take a break."

~ Peter Jacobs, "In NYC's top charter schools, students are reportedly so scared to take a break they wet their pants" Business Insider 4/7/15

We will never run into this issue in Javilla.

When the decision to move here fell upon us (it was more a force propelling us than a conscious decision), we weren't thinking in terms of future grandchildren. I'll never forget the exact moment when Emily stood with Chan in our kitchen and announced she was pregnant. The astonishing news that I would soon become a grandmother was quickly followed by a moment of panic. A new baby way out here? Well, certainly by the time the child was ready to start school, there would be more people around with whom to start some sort of education cooperative. That was before we knew how long the economic recession would go on. Now, at last, people are beginning to sniff around for real estate in our area again, but meanwhile, Maya has turned five and needs to play and learn with other kids.

At the school in Javilla there is a director who doubles as the teacher for about 30 kids in grades one through six. There is a separate kinder teacher. Months ago, Emily spoke to the director of education in Nicoya and government funds were secured for repairs on the kinder room. The money only went so far and when the room was emptied out in preparation for school to begin, it still looked liked this:

Mighty discouraging, alright.

Emily got together some donated items from gringos and held a tag sale fundraiser a few months ago, so she used that money, along with donations from parents and teachers at the Lighthouse School on Nantucket, to spruce things up as best she could. Chan went in with his building crew to clean and paint, which didn't seem like something a parent should have to do the week before the school year begins, but since we try never to use the word should anymore, it was just something that had to be done. We were touched when two workers who have no children in school in Javilla asked not to be paid, choosing to donate their time for the good of the children.

Some paint and a few colorful rugs did much to improve the appearance of the space.

Thankfully, Maya has a fantastic imagination.

When she walked through the door on her first day of school, her smile was so bright it brought the classroom to life.

Maya came home from her first day of school beaming with delight. Phew! Unconcerned with academics at age five, we just wanted her to enjoy the experience. We were happy when her teacher greeted each child with a hug.

We don't expect a lot from the school in Javilla, however . . .

Kinder started with an hour on Tuesday last week. On Wednesday, kinder lasted an hour and a half, and on Thursday, two hours. There was no kinder on Friday. Maya was champing at the bit to get back to school. Monday morning just as Emily was getting into the car to bring Maya to her first full 3.5-hour session, she got a call from Maya's teacher; she had a flat tire so kinder was called off for the day. Maya was devastated. Today, Thursday of the first full week of school, there is no kinder because Maya's teacher has an appointment. We've known for years that school in Javilla gets called off at the drop of a hat, but for some reason we expected five days in a row the first week.

Once more we find ourselves in quite a predicament. We now see that our idea about Maya and Layla going to school in Javilla for a regular schedule and socialization while being academically supplemented at home might not work out very well. Home schooling would seem the logical choice, but the girls need to be part of a community of some sort and they need to play with other kids.

We had hoped that by the time Maya reached school age, Auntie Lizza might start a little private school for her to attend. At this point it would be very private, with only two students: Maya and Layla. One plan we came up with this morning is to start looking now for a couple with a young child or two who might want to take a year off from their usual lives to teach a couple of jungle sisters next year.

In the meantime, we are comforted by this quote from the Dalai Lama:

The magnificence of nature supplies us with peace, healing, and restoration and gives us plenty of stories to tell and we're doing our best to teach the girls about loving. We figure what the girls lack in opportunities for formal education is, for the time being, counteracted by growing up bilingual with a global perspective on life. I'll choose this over perfect test scores with wet pants any day.

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