Changing schools part of growing up for resilient kids

I changed schools between my first- and second-grade years, going from Immaculate Conception Elementary School in Midtown to St. Louis Elementary in East Memphis. Other than the eight miles that separated the two, it was a pretty lateral move for a 7-year-old. The uniform was the same, as was the dogma.

My sisters moved to Florida during their fifth- and 10th-grade years. Now that was an impressive transition. Nothing lateral about a 500-mile move from friends and familiarity. One of those sisters just moved her two children (kindergarten and third grades) to a different city as well. How they’ll turn out remains to be seen.

I have friends who spent much of their childhood in and out of new schools and far-flung cities. “And they’re all well-adjusted,” I tell myself. When it comes to moving, to leaving the norm and facing new challenges in unfamiliar territory, who is more pliable than a child?

Kids are resilient. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. At the beginning of this school year, we moved across town and switched our two daughters to Snowden School.

We were ready for a community with more of a walkable environment, and closer to where my wife and I work. We discussed it with the kids. They were on board (mostly).

Somerset, my eighth-grader, has made friends quickly. Halfway through the first quarter, she says she feels at home. She’s looked at her final year of middle school at Snowden as an adventure, and she’ll be a stronger, more well-rounded person for it.

It hasn’t been so seamless for fourth-grader Genevieve. “Kids are resilient,” I say to myself again. The greatest change I can recall from my own fourth-grade experience was that it was the year we began writing in pen as opposed to pencil. And look how I turned out. For Genevieve, though, this will always be the year she found herself in strange surroundings with new faces.

But those faces can be found in our new neighborhood as well, and that’s where our move makes the most sense to her. Kids run up and down the street, neighbors walk their dogs, and we greet them all from our front porch.

A front porch — that seems to be what’s missing from so many new homes these days. The house we’re in was built in 1920, and it must have been a time when people waved and spoke more, kept an eye on one another and became friends.

We’re in the Evergreen Historic District, a neighborhood that traces its beginnings to 1909, a neighborhood as resilient as any child. It is just what we were looking for in a community.

I’m sitting on that porch as I write. I can get used to this. And my girls will learn to love their new school and new friends.

Link to The Commercial Appeal