Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where in the World?

Sometimes during our morning meeting I ask the kids a "thinking question".
Some of the answers I get take a lot of thought and consideration, but most of the answers to my questions are spur of the moment, off the cuff, first thing on my mind answers. Those are the best and of course the funniest.

Yesterday's question was, "If you could take a trip anywhere in the whole wide world, where would you go?"

Margaret: "I would go to Paris. That's in France you know."
Me: "Wow, I'd like to go to Paris. How do you think you'd get to Paris?"
Margaret: "I would take a horse."
Me: "A horse! Paris is across the Atlantic Ocean, I don't think you could get to Paris on a horse."
Margaret: "Well my horse can fly."
Me: "Well there you go. Be sure to send me a post card."

After Margaret's answer it became very apparent that the geographic experience among my cherubs is very limited.

Kara: "I would go to the bottle store."
Me: "The bottle store?"
Kara: "Yeah, I go there with my daddy sometimes."

I was just a little afraid to delve deeper into that answer.

Among the other answers were, The Willows, Dane Street Beach, Water Country, Coco Key and Chuck E Cheese. Not exactly the answers I was looking for. I was sure to stress the words, anywhere in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD but it didn't seem to make a difference.
However, despite the inexperience one of my favorite answers came from Jackson.

Jackson: "I would go to the Cheesecake Factory." (Now he had my attention!)
Me: "Ooh Jack, I love that place. Why would you go there?"
Jackson: "Well my daddy works there."
Me: "What do you eat when you go there?"
Jackson: "You know silly, cheesecake!"
Me: "Does your daddy make the cheesecake?"
Jackson: "No, he's one of those guys that just walks around and talks to people. But sometimes he uses that computer thingy too."
Me: "I see. How do you get to the Cheesecake factory? Would you take a plane?"
Jackson: (Rolling his eyes) "He doesn't work at the one that far away and he doesn't work at the one near here, he works at the one somewhere in the middle."
Me:" So you don't need a plane to get there then."
Jackson: "No, you just need the highway and a car."
Me: "Gotcha. So maybe you can hook me up with some cheesecake then?"
Jackson: "I'll see what I can do."

So now the wheels in my head are am I going to teach these little travelers that there is more to this world than the 20 mile radius encircling our city? I think I have an idea. I still have some details to iron out, but once I do, I'm going to need the help of some eager kindergarten teachers around the country.

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 15, 2010

S is for School

I had really good intentions for this blog post. I was going to write a well-thought out and poignant post that listed all the reasons why a very good school should remain open. Why, despite the face that it's the oldest school building in the city, it should be allowed to continue to do what it has done for nearly 100 years...educate the children of Salem.

Yes, as a building it is lacking compared to the other schools in our city, but everyone there, parents, teachers and children will tell you, it's not about that.
It's never been about that.We all know that it's what happens within those walls that's important.

I was going to try to be emotionally detached while writing this, I was going to state facts, statistics, MCAS scores, but the truth of the matter is, I can't be emotionally detached, I am attached. I think the best way for me to tell MY story of a school is to tell it from my point of view.

This school is as much a part of me as my own home. The people in it my family.
Horace Mann became part of me in 1987 when I was a student teacher. I fell in love with the school then, but after graduation I began work in a private kindergarten/day care center.
After starting a family, I made the decision to work from home and opened family child care. It was important to me to be home with my children and day care gave me the chance to do that and still teach.

When it was time to choose a school for my children there was only one choice. I was familiar with the school and with the teachers there. Yes, I looked at the others, but they weren't as welcoming, or as comfortably familiar. I knew my children would be well educated, watched out for and loved. I was not wrong.

When my youngest was nearing kindergarten age I knew it was time for me to go back to work. I started a Masters program, stayed involved as a parent and was lucky enough to be hired in a place that I already loved and knew so well.

Patrick and I started kindergarten together. Me, in the same room I did my student teaching in 18 years before, and he, right across the hall.
My older two were no longer there having moved on to middle school and now high school, but they still visit from time, not to see me, but their former teachers, who are all genuinely happy to see them when they do.

All along the way, we have heard rumors about the closing of our school, but up until now that's all they were, rumors. In the past we've heard rumors about building a new school, moving our school to another spot on the college campus, rumor after rumor after rumor.
This time it feels a little bit more real. State and city finances being what they are, it feels like a real possibility.

But still, none of us are convinced. We aren't packing our bags or panicking. We are all going about doing what we do. Teaching children. We are still just as dedicated to that as we always have been and will continue to be.
If our school closed we'd all be okay. Most of us would have jobs in other buildings, the children would be dispersed among the other 6 elementary schools, we'd teach, they'd learn, but it wouldn't be the same.
We truly are a family, children, teachers, families...friends.

So that's MY story, only one of many.
My only hope is that we are given the opportunity to write more...many many more.