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Opinion

Gasparino: The right choice for school choice

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The concept of school choice is new to this Connecticut native. For many families and those of us relatively new to the Valley, it can be a subject filled with doubt and anxiety. As parents, we strive to seek out information. Unironically, we are compelled to get educated on education. We do our homework, research schools, check websites and talk to our community, friends and family.

My wife and I are from Connecticut, where there is no school choice. You pick your town, often based on the schools, and put down roots. While visiting family in Scottsdale, we fell in love with the desert and knew this was where we wanted to raise our children. My wife’s cousins, now with kids of their own, are a great testament to the public education that they received. Yet, friends back home expressed concerns about the quality of the schools compared to what they knew in Connecticut. We had done our research, both quantitative and qualitative, and knew it would be a great fit.

Arizona has a vast array of choices, yet still our decision was solidified with a single conversation. When we reached out to inquire about Anasazi Elementary School in the Scottsdale Unified School District, Principal Jennifer Waldron responded quickly and answered all our questions. We learned about Anasazi’s experienced teaching staff, strong testing scores and active parents who help support the school and community.

Once we had moved and enrolled our children, we learned that Anasazi’s greatest strength is something that can’t be calculated on a spreadsheet. We are thrilled with our choice because of the community that centers around the school. We have met other parents and seen our children grow and thrive.  Despite only living here for three years, we have made many friends and feel welcomed and part of a community, city and even state that once felt distant.

Recently, we attended the Anasazi Winter Festival; it was a perfect example of how a neighborhood school should function and one of the many reasons we are so happy with our choice to join the Anasazi community. After a long week of spelling, math, cursive and soccer practice, the students ran around, laughing, enjoying games, face painting and, most importantly, each other.

I appreciate the talented volunteers and PTO who worked tirelessly with staff to host the outstanding community event. Because it wasn’t just a little elementary school event; it was a community coming together to celebrate. We are fortunate that our school choice brought us into the amazing Anasazi community.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.