“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” -Aristotle
In 1986, the elementary school that I attended was given the Georgia School of Excellence Award. When I began kindergarten in 1991, my mother was an active member of the P.T.A and also a paraprofessional there. As far as I can remember, my years at this institution were wonderful, I made many friends and was involved with the student council and other activities.
Almost 28 years later, this same school is claimed to be the worse school in my town.
Last Friday, I decided to help out around the school. I found some paraprofessionals that needed me and I hung out in their office. While assisting them a teacher walks in and is more concerned about her water weight than her class. She complains about how fat she has been feeling and that today is a skinny day for her.
After this riveting conversation, she ask if one of her problem students could come down and do some work to help the paraprofessionals. The head parapro said that she did and the teacher sent the student down to the office. After about 30 minutes, the same teacher sent another student down to help. Those students stayed in the office for 2 1/2 hours missing out on important instructional time and everyone was fine with it.
Everyone but ME!
This school is the only elementary school within the city limits and serves 5 of the 7 public housing communities’ children. It is the epicenter of the city , how the students fare in the elementary school shapes their progress throughout the school system and abroad. The future for these little ones seems to be slipping away daily because of their demographics; with 461 students in this school and 440 of them are eligible for the school’s free lunch program. In grades 3-5 there is 1 teacher for 25 students and half of these students are below their grade reading level.In most cases, the aforementioned students are the most difficult to reach and the one’s that are willing to learn are most often over looked.
Though the local detention center is expanding their availability for future residents by measuring the failing state scores of 3rd graders, it seems as if teachers and parents are still out on vacation and we are well into the fifth week of school. Parents seem to think that teachers are responsible for their children’s education and have the teachers convinced that they want to have little or nothing to do with the process. Some teachers have even professed that they haven’t seen some parents for an entire school year. Teachers seem complacent about teaching students with their whole hearts because it is a daily fight to gain control of their classes.
W.W.J.C.D? What would Joe Clark do?
Mr. Joe Clark would call a pep rally in the school auditorium and get rid of all of the miscreants. He would take the gates down and make the school look beautiful. He would establish clubs and would encourage students to study and bring their parents to learn how to read. He would carry a bat and lock out all of the riffraff. He would go up against any parent and the Fire Marshall to ensure his students safety and education. And when it was all said and done, he would have his students to sing Lean On Me.
Though it may seem hard to reach the urban community it can be accomplished.
Teachers, instead of judging our students by their disparities, let us compliment their abilities. Take a true interest in the child no matter their race or economic status. Enjoy teaching the troubled child as much as you enjoy teaching the honor student. Encourage parents to attend P.T.A meetings and you should as well. Research innovative ways to deliver a certain lesson; capture the minds of these students.
Parents, it is our responsibility to instill the love of education into our children. Our qualms with the value of our children’s education is our responsibility to ensure. Become involved with the different programs offered to parents and students and if there are none, let’ create some.Even if our school experience may not have been the most pleasant does not mean our children’s has to be. Our voices can change how our children are handled and taught for years to come.
W.W.H.L.D? What would Helen Ladson do?
Well, honestly I would do all of those things, but instead of a bat I would prefer a set of golf clubs. However, though this school is nothing like fair East Side High, without improvements it can easily evolve into a sad state of affairs.