We've designed thoughtful ways to make the commute possible: timing the school day to major public transportation schedules, having faculty chaperone kids, and creating a school portal that tracks your child's trip.
With these systems in place, the commute becomes routine for parents and fun for kids after just a couple of weeks.
We offer unique educational opportunities across the curriculum, where friendships are deep, the city is an extension of the classroom, and the community encompasses the entire Bay Area, including San Jose, Berkeley, Marin, and all points in between.
A large part of our success is owed to the simple fact that kids and families are choosing to be here. This is true even for our faculty and staff, who also make the commute. We've chosen Proof School as well.
Traveling together builds relationships, teaches us to look out for one another, even gives us opportunities to problem-solve. In short, the trip adds a unique and positive dimension to our experience as a community.
One afternoon I had a schedule change and came to pick up my daughter directly from school at the end of the day. She was happy to see me, but said she didn't want to miss the daily fun BART commute with her friends. She asked if I could just drive home without her and pick her up on the other end! To her, my offer of a ride home was a big disappointment, as if I had asked her to skip recess.
One morning my daughter ended up boarding a Transbay bus more than 30 minutes later than expected. As a new parent, I worried about how the chaperone would cope with the delay at the SF terminal. I called the school, and the staff handled the situation with cheer and grace. That evening I asked her about the incident, worried that she had been stressed. She was surprised by my concern--it had never for a moment occurred to her that the staff would not take perfect care of her. She had seen how they handled other kids being late, she explained with a shrug.
The commute is orchestrated in a seamless way, from the parent portal "check in" to the communication with the school if there are ever any concerns or delays. The school really pays attention to events occurring in the city and plans the afternoon commute accordingly, leaving school a little early if necessary. There is a lot of attention to detail.
Luckily, the commute is going far more smoothly than we anticipated. My sixth grader takes the bus to the Transbay Bus station, where he loves goofing off with his classmates until everyone arrives. On the walk to school, he gets to raise math questions with (and learn math jokes from) the Head of School. He’s also become quite proud of his ability to get around the city on public transportation.
Most importantly to me, my son feels at home. The other day, he announced, “You know what’s so great about Proof? No one has to try to fit in. There's no particular group of popular kids. Everyone has a lot of common interests, so you can just be yourself.”
The commute might seem like a major drawback, but for most of us it's actually an important part of school life. Proof School would not be the same without its sense of community, and the time we spend together on the commute is a big part of that.
Before Proof School, I had never taken a train anywhere. I was expecting a whistle and the conductor to yell "All aboard!" Even though this doesn't actually happen, I still think the way trains work is cool, which makes riding one really fun!
What I'd really like families to know is that if there ever is a delay, we older kids take care of the younger ones.
When there are delays, parents can count on older students making sure younger students know what is going on and the updated plan. As the oldest sibling of four kids, I really like being part of the community this way, especially with our youngest students.
When the unusual happens, from a delay on Caltrain to San Francisco becoming a Super Bowl city, we make adjustments.
Hiccups happen. Our front office keeps an eye on transportation alerts throughout the day, and we make thoughtful changes whenever they are needed.
In the past, we've played a school-wide strategy game to await students delayed on a train and ended school a few minutes early when the Giants have a day game.
Sometimes, it's as simple as a student losing her Clipper Card, or a student forgetting his phone and not being able to text a parent. Our chaperones are there, buying tickets and communicating with families.
Doing so is part of our community principle to look out for one another.
In our experience, the underlying questions families have about the commute get answered by their child's experience of it.
Our kids have lots of fun on their commutes, and it quickly becomes a routine for families.
Q: What is the chaperoning plan for the 2017-2018 school year?
A: In the morning, we'll pick up kids at three transportation hubs: the Transbay Bus Terminal, Powell Street for BART/MUNI, and the Ferry Building. In the afternoon, we will take kids to the Ferry Building, Powell Street BART/MUNI, and Caltrain at 4th and King.
Q: How do kids from the South Bay typically get to school in the morning?
A: Most of our kids transfer to BART at Millbrae, and then ride to Powell Street, the nearest public transportation station to Proof School. Some kids ride all the way into 4th and King, and then either walk up to school or share a cab together.
Q: How do kids spend their commute?
A: We recently polled students, and by far the most popular response was having fun with their friends. They see it as a playdate, and after a couple of weeks, they can't imagine not having that time together.
Proofniks are also avid readers and programmers on their commutes, and during certain points of the block, they're known to study together for an upcoming quiz.
Q: How safe is the trip?
A: Proofniks tend to stay together, and traveling in groups allows them to look out for one another. In a real sign of community, our older kids proactively take care of the younger ones.
Because we're in a city, we teach personal safety and situational awareness at the start of each year, and we revisit these topics throughout the year. In short, the commutes are safe.