Question: Does anyone have any experience with the Concordia School in the Heights? Does anyone plan on doing it this year ?
Yes. We did it. And yes – we’re going to do it again this year.
If you don’t know about Concordia, here’s the nutshell:
- Concordia Learning Center is a school inside a school, like so many schools in Jersey City. It’s housed inside St. Joseph’s School for the Blind. While there is interaction between the two schools, it’s minimal.
- The year we applied, there were 6 classrooms of 15 kids each (2 teachers per room), so 90 kids enrolled in total. That number may or may not be the same this upcoming year. I did reach out to them but at the time of this publication I haven’t heard back. I’ll keep you posted.
- It’s only Pre-K3. There is no Pre-K4. Kids are in Concordia for one year only.
- There’s no younger sibling/alumni preference, or grandfather clause for easier sign up. Each child has to register independently. Which leads me to:
- Registration is on a first come, first served basis. Thus:
- Parents wait on line, overnight, for TWO nights (!), in MARCH, to register for September’s school year.
- Concordia has a great reputation &
- it’s on the list of contracted child care centers so
- it’s free.
- (Read Pre-K3 in Jersey City: Getting Started to understand contracted child care centers.)
Is it worth it?
To us it was. It depends on what’s important to you. Here’s what I liked about it (besides the pricetag):
- The facility itself is in great shape. It’s well lit and the classrooms are big.
- The classrooms are well stocked, organized, and have bathrooms.
- I LOVED my son’s teachers – BIG GIANT shout out to Ms. Johanna and Ms. Lourdes!
- The administration is ON TOP of it – whatever “it” is.
- Breakfast and lunch are provided, but you can pack lunch if you want to.
- Before and after school care is offered for a monthly fee – I think it’s like $350.
- The playground &
- the PARKING LOT.
All of those reasons made waiting on a line over night worth it for us for our first child, and worth it again for the second child.
Here’s the big caveat to all of this: Manage your expectations, parents. There’s no rainbow shooting out the roof or unicorn to greet you in the morning. It’s a preschool. It’s a great preschool, but it’s a preschool. It has the same limitations that any other preschool has.
For example, parents who love their kid’s teachers tend to have better experiences than parents who don’t.
Or, maybe you get shouted at in the parking lot when your car is in the wrong place but you can’t find a place to park because of buses and kids and someone is in the way and and and… Those mornings can feel less than stellar.
Like any school, the parking lot can be a chaotic place in the mornings. Remember that Concordia is inside the School for the Blind so there are children who need accommodations that your child probably doesn’t. The focus in on their safety.
And for me, the idea that my son was going to be exposed to large groups of student with visual impairment was a plus. Developing empathy and compassion at a young age was a huge benefit in my book.
Wrapping it all up: We loved Concordia. We’re going to sit on the line again in March (date not yet announced) for our younger child. But if you can’t or choose another option, know that you’re still doing it right. There are lots of options. More on those to come next week.
And also – I’m working on a Surviving the Line post. Follow us so you don’t miss that.