A year later and my education angst is no less than it was when looking for an appropriate Pre-K for Ava.  If you’re wondering what happened in our quest to place in the NYC Pre-K system… nothing.  We applied to 10 schools total.  Not because we wanted to go to all 10 schools but we wanted to assure ourselves of placing into one school… PERIOD.  I’m always the optimist and although I had done my research, I really wanted to be one of the LUCKY ones.  Of the 10 schools we applied to I’d say there was only really 2 that we wanted to go to, or would consider going to.  Thank goodness I had the smarts to look into CBO Pre-K’s as well as private schools.  In total, we had applied to one private school and 10 NYC public school based Pre-K programs.  We didn’t apply to any CBO Pre-K’s because the selection criteria was about elusive as Big Foot.  I’d even wager, it had more to do with how much you were willing to pay for the longer program, minus the supposed discount for the free 2.5 hours provided under the CBO Pre-K label.  Shady you think?  I agree.

The one private school that we applied to, after extensive research, was another “I wish, I wish…” and for once in my life I am happy I wished such a big dream for my daughter.  There’s something to be said about private schools.  If you’ve done the research and compared, it’s really hard to even accept a public school education as plausible when you want only the best for your child.  With our feet in both pools, we waited.  We first got our acceptance to the private school a few weeks before we would know about the NYC Public Pre-K and I could hardly believe it.  They loved our little Ava just as much as we did.  And that’s where the anxiety really began.  Could we really afford such an undertaking and were the benefits enough to choose this over public school?

When the public school Pre-K selections were announced, we were denied acceptance to ALL 10 schools.  I kind of breathed a sigh of relief.  Of course I was disappointed but in my head, I had already committed to sending Ava to private school.  As all of our friends found our their results, it was astonishing, although it really shouldn’t have been, that out of 12 friends with kids hoping to enter Pre-K in the Fall of 2011, not ONE of them got in.  You see, simply by not having a sibling already in the system, we had already fallen down the seniority tree, to the very bottom.  Which begs to ask, how does one even get a sibling into the system to begin with?

Long story short, we cut corners, made sacrifices and our Ava got to attend her wonderfully amazing and nurturing private school where she is taught and loved by her two teachers and 11 classmates.  She has enjoyed every minute in this close knit community where everyone is invested in the children’s education.

So why the anxiety you ask?  I can’t help be the cautious bee.  While the husband has expressed that he will stop at nothing to continue sending her to this school, I live in fear constantly that this may not be the reality.  Every year we will have to apply for financial assistance and while current families receive preferential consideration, it’s still a nail biting thing to think one year I may not be able to afford to send her to this amazing school that she too, has fallen in love with.  Not to mention in a few years I have to consider Marcus’ schooling.  I have politely declined invitations for Marcus’ to join their toddler program, making excuses about scheduling, but the real reason is mostly fear that we just don’t have the money to do so.  It’s a really scary position for a parent to be in.

Trying to hedge my bets, I was completely devastated to find out we had missed the Gifted and Talented application deadline.  It was the only plausible public school alternative that I would let my Ava attend and I had blown it by missing the deadline.  Again the husband reiterated his commitment to sending Ava to her current school.  I wish I could be as cavalier as he.  Our latest financial aid application just submitted I sit here biting my tongue and once again wishing…and I opened my inbox to read an email that I almost deleted as junk… about an amazing app that is worthy of so many accolades… Sage: Pre-K and Elementary Schools Search


Sage is a NYC public pre-k and elementary school search for the mobile web. Search for your school by entering your address to find your zoned school and schools nearby. See a school’s basic information, state exam results and NYC progress report grades. You can also search for schools by intersection, zip or name if you’re just looking around. Tips about the admissions process are offered along the way.

Sage, by Dendro Kids, was built by parents for parents and they know that the search for an NYC school can be an overwhelming experience. Sage offers a head start for those parents whose children are just coming into school age and are learning the NYC Department of Education admissions process.

Visit: on your iPhone or Android device! (or Chrome or Safari)


I visited the site and was blown away.  All at my fingertips was all the information I spent so much time looking for, all compactly placed.  Each parent will have their own experience with the NYC admission process, and for some, the research found on this app will make them happy they live in the neighborhood they live in and for others, like myself, happy they made alternative choices in their child’s education.  I have to admit, I couldn’t help just looking and comparing the report cards of neighboring schools, all of which we are not zoned for or could get in even if we wanted to.  The app was a real eye opener.  Founder Edward Yau (and fellow Columbian) of Dendro Kids said it best, “In times like these, where the city is closing schools for underperformance (See:, it’s even more important for parents to keep track on how their school is doing.”

While I love the goal of this program, I have one edit to make.  I think this app goes beyond helping parents whose children are just coming into school age, it’s a tool for parents of any age.  Perhaps it can be a catalyst for change, mobilizing parents to ask more from their schools and set higher standards.

If you agree, please vote for Sage: Pre-K and Elementary Schools Search in the NYC Big Apps 3.0 competition. Now in its 3rd year, NYC Big Apps is a competition where the NYC administration releases a data from city agencies and invites software developers to make innovative applications to improve the lives of NYC citizens.  NYC Big Apps has received a record number of app submissions in this year’s competition but Sage: Pre-K and Elementary Schools Search is getting my vote.