Saturday, March 31, 2012

{these moments}

So I missed last week's moment. I took the picture, I just didn't post it. So here is a word filled look back through the last few weeks. I'm entitling this montage "Mother Nature's Hot Flash".

March 23: For the record, this pile of snow didn't melt last year until May.  

March 27: The blooming trees and little birdies aren't happy, either.

March 31: 1"-3" of snow predicted for tomorrow night. And lingering snowbanks in May are, once again, looking like a distinct possibility...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

{this moment}

I can't even pretend to follow the {no words} rules this week.

What do you think is going on to draw such a crowd? You'd look at this shot and think it was an awards banquet or speech contest. Would you ever in a million years guess school board meeting? That was what I thought, too, as I walked into our gym. Hundreds of people-- best guess is 600-- showed up for a school board meeting to express our love and concern for our schools. Six hundred people came to a school board meeting. As a government teacher, I was pretty pumped. As a community member, I was encouraged. As a teacher at this school, I was overwhelmed.

This meeting has caused hard feelings on all sides of the issue, and that makes me incredibly sad. For me, this hasn't been about 'us vs. them' in the least-- and it is bad for all of us that that is what it's becoming. But I want the same thing for the neighboring high school and it's students that I want for ours: local control and all the benefits that come from small schools. Research supports it, but our proof is in the graduates. Both of our schools have sent kids off to top notch colleges, ready for the challenges their futures hold. We've sent kids who were considered 'at risk' for not graduating into the community college system with their high school diplomas in hand. We both do very good things, and that has benefited all of us. To me, a potential budget savings of only 1/15th of the shortfall is just not worth risking losing our small schools. Our budget it tight, there's no doubt about it: but a proposal such as this should be the last option, brought forth after all other options have been implemented. Closing schools and/or reconfiguring them damages the community as a whole in so many ways, and much of that impact continues on for decades after the event. The pros have to significantly outweigh the cons, and I dont' think they do for us right now.

I lost my community district 6 years ago, and I regret voting for that merger every day. My kids are still getting a solid education, but some of what we lost can't be easily measured or documented. There was a solid safety net under all of our kids; when they graduated from our k-8 district (one campus with one class per grade level) they went onto high school with confidence in themselves, an ability to get along with anyone, and a depth of creativity to 'make it work' in any situation. They had years of practice on all those skills, and we always had students in the Top Ten from each high school to which we tuitioned kids, which shows their academic skills got some use, too. When we merged in with our current district, I watched some of those opportunities fade away as we we exposed to more tangible ones: my children may now have tech ed and IA opportunities, but I'd trade those in a heartbeat for them to have the opportunity to truly learn to accept their classmate's strengths and weaknesses. Those kinds of skills take you far in life, no matter what you choose to do or where you choose to live. What we gained in that merger does not even come close to equaling what we lost.

Regardless of how you fall on this issue, you can't deny that people in this community care about our education system. I think more people came to this board meeting than voted in the last gubernatorial election. No matter what else you think or feel about this topic, those numbers are impressive. If we can harness that energy into positive action, imagine how amazing our schools could become...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

{this moment}

I have some pretty amazing friends...
Thank you <3

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

where my heart lies

I came to town in 1992, fresh out of college. A first year teacher, I really had no idea what I was in for at my small, independent, k-8 district: I thought I was going to work, but what I was really doing was becoming part of a family.

I had an apartment in the neighboring town, along the route to the high school. The first time I saw cardboard signs lining the streets with all the kids participating in a band competition, I knew I'd found home.  Parents line these telephone poles every time kids make it to playoffs. Every. Time. I'd never seen such public support before. Sure, my class A high school celebrated within the halls, but it never stretched into people having no connection to the team. It didn't take me long to discover that my community believed in it's schools. 

I came here because of a job, but I stayed because it became my life. I have lived, worked, cried, and celebrated with my friends, colleagues, and neighbors. I got married here, became a parent, and bought a house in my small district because I knew my kids would not only get  a quality education but would also grow up surrounded by people who care for them. And now the school board is discussing closing my school down, and combining it with an equally small and unique district up the river.

This plan is not good for my kids, or my sunshines, or many of the students in either community. It will not save the kind of money that the budget needs to save to justify this level of upheaval on students. I can't support it emotionally, and I can't support it rationally. I don't deny that something needs to give, but it shouldn't be the students that give up the most.

Sunday, March 04, 2012