Madison Clark at Trinity Episcopal School. Photo by Isaac Harell
Do you want to try private school?" my mother asked me over dinner one night.
I remember thinking she was crazy, and I told her no. There was no way we could afford it, I thought, and anyway, I'd always gone to public school. Sure, I knew a couple of kids who went to private school, but most of my friends went to public schools, so why make the switch? After successful stints at William Fox Elementary and Lucille Brown Middle (in the school's International Baccalaureate program), we had begun looking in the direction of high schools, and I eventually applied to Maggie Walker Governor's School and the IB program at Thomas Jefferson High School. After what seemed like an especially long wait, the letters came, and I learned that while Maggie Walker was a no-go, I had been accepted to Thomas Jefferson.
So I started my high-school career at TJ with a couple of my best friends, excited to continue IB. The program had been great for me in middle school, helping to grow as a student and discover my own style of learning, and I was interested to experience IB at the high-school level. But after a couple months, I began to grow restless. Thomas Jefferson's IB program was in a time of transition from one coordinator to another. The change was hard on both students and teachers; no one really knew what to expect, and classes were a bit jumbled and confusing. I understand that things have smoothed out since, but by the winter of my freshman year, my family and I had decided to make a change. For the first time in my life, I was considering private school.
After weeks of looking at websites and visiting schools, I decided to apply to Trinity Episcopal School and Saint Gertrude. I chose them for different reasons: price, as I come from a single-income family; proximity to my home; and, of course, the schools themselves. Each promised me the challenge I was looking for, but after being accepted to both schools and after much consideration, I decided on Trinity, which offers an IB diploma.
By the time fall finally arrived, I'd done all the summer reading for my English and AP U.S. history classes, I had enrolled in a photography course (a longtime interest of mine), and I had prepared myself to the fullest for my first day. I was excited about the year to come, but, like any student starting at a new school, I was also nervous. Coming in as a sophomore, I would be the "new kid." What if it wasn't what I expected? What if the kids were mean?
I had so many fears, but soon, all of that was gone. Trinity's students, faculty and staff took me under their wings. Trinity's Big Sister/Big Brother program, which paired all incoming students with a senior, gave me a friendly face in the hall that I knew would be there for me. The teachers, particularly my advisor, really worked with me that first year to help me understand what the school expects from its students and how to tackle everything put in front of me in the "Trinity way," as I like to call it. I regularly attended tutorial, a homework-help session led by teachers who stay after school, and I had never felt so supported in my ability to face new challenges.
Transitions can be difficult, something to be overcome, but my transition from public to private school felt seamless, breaking down a lot of the stereotypes I had associated with private education before attending Trinity. As I head into my senior year, I have no doubt that I'm in the right place.