Elementary School Advice from a High School Parent

by Georgia McNamara

Sometimes your first choice many not be your best choice. 

My son started school at SFUSD in first grade. We switched from private/independent school. (Switching was an experience because most people acted like we were the worst parents in the world, and a few wondered if they'd ever be as brave.) 

This was in 2006, and we filled out our form with the one school we KNEW we had to have at the top, English *and* Spanish, because we knew that was THE SCHOOL. 

We filled in the rest with other wildly-popular schools and schools on the closure list, like McKinley Elementary at #5. 

When we got our letter from SFUSD we couldn't even remember where McKinley was! On Monday morning our phone rang and it was Principal Bonnie Coffey-Smith, asking when we were coming in for a tour. When we hesitated, she said, "See you tomorrow morning at 9!" 

That night we filled out the round 2 application to wait pool for our #1 choice. We went to McKinley the next day (parking a ridiculous number of blocks away because we still weren't sure where the school was and it was before Google maps). We were awed by Bonnie and charmed by McKinley. 

We did more research and decided to enroll our son at McKinley and it's been the best decision for our family. It's a great school and an even better community. There are so many great schools within SFUSD that your first choice might not end up being your best choice.


Georgia McNamara has a son in high school and a daughter who will enroll in middle school in the fall of 2016. Her family enrolled in an under-enrolled elementary school that was on the school closure list in 2006.