A reminder for when the idealism fades for neighborhood schools

Grand Rapids Public Schools; Grand Rapids, Mich.

By Meryl Herr

Guest writer

This year as winter lingered, quickly freezing any sign of spring, my passion for investing in our neighborhood public school grew cold. My hope, my idealism, my energy wore thin.  

When the cracks in my perseverance began to show, doubt seeped in and a familiar idea took root: “Do what’s best for your child, what’s best for your family.” Was this low-performing, under-resourced public school the best choice for my child?


Teachers, admins, even crossing guards, committed to kids’ achievement

By Catherine McNiel

Guest writer

A Suburban Chicago School District, Illinois

My first encounter with the local elementary school crossing guard was six years ago, the year my oldest child was in kindergarten. In my eyes, it seemed the height of reason that I double-park my car in front of the school, just for a moment, to send my small boy off safely—without parking blocks away and unearthing my babies from their car seats.

The crossing guard did not agree.


Children gain a community of support at local school

Johnson City Schools, Johnson City, TN

District 41, Glen Ellyn, IL

By Sarah Lindsay

Guest writer

Most parents experience at least a twinge of emotion as they send their child off to kindergarten: that first day of school marks a significant transition. I certainly felt that when I dropped off my oldest for the first time. But for me, the twinge was heightened by the fact that I wasn’t just sending my daughter into a new experience for her — I was entering a new experience myself.

You see, I was homeschooled.


The questions visitors ask when they come to our city

We’re not from here. Lansing isn’t where we were born or raised; our relatives live hours away. Sometimes we joke that’s by design. Sometimes we don’t make that joke. …….

Um. So, as I meant to imply, when family visits, it’s a big deal. It’s an event. We roll out all the good stuff: we eat at the soup place or the crepe place or the place with all the local beers. We go to the art museum or we hike at a park or we play games at our kitchen table. We show them all the highlights.


Relationships, presence matters at local public schools

By Stephanie Reeves
Guest writer

Orange County Public Schools; Orlando, Florida

Our high school sits nestled in the back of a low-income neighborhood, bordered by a Catholic church and run-down houses, many with jacked-up cars sitting in carports lined with discarded appliances and other paraphernalia of living.

It’s a neighborhood I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking in after dark.


What school visits showed me as a mom, former teacher

As a teacher in Wichita Public Schools; Wichita, Kansas

As a parent of students in Springdale School District; Springdale, Arkansas

By Rhonda Franz

Guest writer

When my husband and I looked into school options for our first child, I went to observe in classrooms, having equipped myself with a notepad, sharp observation skills, and my perspective as an educator who once taught public school.

So, when I observed for a morning in a kindergarten class at our local elementary, I watched with a trained eye. How did the teacher make her lesson applicable to the students? What did she do about the fidgety kids distracted by peers and giggles and a dead bug on the floor ten feet away?


What a difference seven miles makes to schools, students

Seven miles.

Seven miles here covers three school district boundaries, each distinct. I’ve been thinking a lot about that number lately, as I’ve taken up moonlighting as a substitute teacher. (Writing doesn’t pay the bills and patrons are hard to find — call me if you know a guy.) As a sub, I’m a casual observer and active participant in a day with a bunch of different kids and professionals. I love these people. And it’s obvious: going inside schools matters.


How attending the local Title I school shaped my family

By Sheli Massie

Guest writer

Nancy Hill Elementary, District 129

West Aurora Schools, Aurora, IL

When my oldest daughter was in second grade a student in her class pulled a knife on the teacher. I was young and scared. And that is how I reacted: scared. I pulled her from the school and enrolled her younger sister and her into a private Lutheran school we could not afford. We ate ramen noodles and drank watered down milk just to make payments. They went from a school of over 500 to one under 60. The only diversity was the lunch lady. At the time it was a fear-based response. I reacted and did not respond.