“We love the education; we love the options. When you have the choices, you are able to continually assess to make sure you’re in the right program for your kid at that time.” – Amy Ostrow
Amy and Hal Ostrow are a GRPS family and the proud parents of Sam (8th grade) and Ari (5th grade). Sam and Ari started their school years at Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center. Sam also attended Museum Middle and is now attending City Middle. Ari plans to attend either Museum Middle, Zoo School or the Center for Economicology when he finishes 5th grade at Child Discovery Center.
The entire Ostrow family is currently working remotely. Amy works as the Director of Student Services at Davenport University and Hal is an attorney at Rhoades McKee. The family opted to keep Sam and Ari in the 100% remote learning classroom.
For Sam, this means he “literally hasn’t set foot in City Middle, ever,” but that hasn’t discouraged him from engaging with his new peers and diving headfirst into his schoolwork. “Sam has blown us away, which has affirmed that City is a really great fit for him, both in terms of academics and extracurriculars,” says Hal. Not only has Sam been thriving in an environment where he is being challenged and supported by his teachers and peers, he also decided to join the Debate Team. “We were really proud of and impressed when Sam won his first debate tournament, and then the second one; but even more, we were impressed by how much he grew as a learner, writer, and analytical thinker through this activity and with the guidance of the debate coach. It’s been an incredible experience. He’s made a really tight-knit group of friends, all of whom are also enrolled in the virtual learning option.”
Ari has also grown and developed since starting school remotely. He thrives in the structured classroom environment, so learning from home was an adjustment. With support from family, Ari ultimately honed his self-management skills and is managing his time much better. Amy commented that the pandemic actually encouraged her son to develop skills such as time management, internal motivation to complete assignments, and general resiliency, which she is grateful for.
Opting to remain in the virtual learning environment was not necessarily an easy decision for the Ostrows. Hal explained, “Once the hybrid option was announced, these were tough choices. We had to balance what we know to be their need for socialization with our need for safety.” When GRPS announced last summer that the district would be returning to school remotely, it was a relief to Hal and Amy. They are quick to acknowledge how fortunate they are to have had job security throughout the pandemic, as well as having had the option to continue their work remotely. The Ostrows were even able to finally cross an item off their family bucket list. They got a puppy named Benny!
Having been in the district for 9 years, Hal and Amy feel that their experience with GRPS has been overwhelmingly positive for their boys and encourage any family who prioritizes a variety of quality educational options to enroll their child. Add the rich diversity of students and staff in GRPS and you have a winning combination! Hal said, “both of our children are getting the highest caliber and quality of education in a multitude of ways: student-to-teacher ratio, a challenging curriculum, a parent’s ability to interact with their teachers, the choice of theme schools, and the opportunity to build relationships with the entire school community.”