I think my kids go to the best school in the world. I am so proud of them, but I am also proud of myself and my husband, for making the choice to keep them in this particular school system.
Early on, I faced a lot of criticism from certain people in my life who felt that the school was just too small to be effective. Then, when a nearby town offered the “Promise” of a free college education to anyone who graduated from their public schools, I faced huge pressure from those same people to transfer my kids. The implication –sometimes not a very subtle one—was that I was a bad mother for not switching schools immediately.
A few years later, our little school ended up on a list of schools that were struggling. Once again, I was hit with pressure to yank my kids out of their school and enroll them in another. I’ll admit I shed a lot of tears over the nasty phone calls and emails from folks who felt that I was clearly not focusing on my children’s best interests.
Now, our school is on a few “best” lists in our state. Their scores are steadily improving every year, and the kids have the added bonus of being part of an educational community that is small enough to focus on more than just standardized test scores.
You know, I never heard my high school principal speak until he stood at the podium at my graduation. I met the Assistant Principal a few times (usually during second hour German class when I got mouthy with Fraulein Johnson), but Mr. Evans was a mystery. And forget about meeting the Superintendant! We had all heard stories about him, but many of us wondered if he really existed at all.
At my kids’ school, the principal and the superintendant have both done crazy things like taking turns in the dunking booth at different fundraisers, or riding donkeys at donkey basketball games. They join the teachers in interacting with the kids in school as well as at community events. Basically, the entire staff strives to make themselves relatable, approachable, human to our kids.
Maybe I’ve got it backward, but that’s every bit as important to me as high scores on standardized tests.
This past year, our school participated in Challenge Day, a program whose mission is “to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.” Challenge Day urges kids to “Be The Change”, to reach out to each other. For more information on Challenge Day, go to challengeday.org.
This past week, the staff and administrators of our little school took this a step farther. They put together a hilarious video in which none of them is afraid to look silly. From the P.E . teacher’s Elvis impersonation to the drama teacher’s willingness to laugh at her own . . .ah, vertical challenges, to the principal himself –who really shows how to rock a bathrobe and black socks, by the way –the video shows the kids that adults aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
The caption to the video reads as follows:
Be the change in your school. Our teachers opened themselves up to demonstrate their willingness to “Be the Change” at Bloomingdale Public Schools. Can you make a difference in your school?
Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone. Improve your school by working harder in class, being nicer to one another, take care of the building–have pride in your school. If you won’t don’t expect others to change first.
I am proud to be the parent of three Cardinals. Here’s hoping the video goes viral: