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.


nana2mdnjp said...

I know how you feel since I've just gone through something similar. It's very sad leaving the past but the future might be even better.

Elizabeth said...

we went through a large restructuring about 8 years ago and had just started to build a real community in our building when all the RIFs starting coming down and people started jumping ship to more stable systems. Now we have a teacher in the school for maybe 2 years and they move on or their job is cut. Education, especially elementary is about community, and it's too bad to see these things happening.