Thursday, November 22, 2012

A School Committee Member's Thanksgiving

I'm thankful today for parents: who get up before dawn, pack lunches, check backpacks, get kids out the door, fed, warm, and ready for their day; who come home after dark, make sure people are fed, homework is done, kids are tucked in; who struggle through new ways of doing math, new languages they've never learned; who have crossed towns and oceans to get their children an education; for parents, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for bus drivers: getting up while it's dark to get those big diesel engines to turn over, out of the bus yard to collect kids in the rain, in the cold, all the year; drowning in noise; coaxing those big yellow sleds up and down hills in the snow; making sure that the little ones are with those they should be, that the big ones make it across safely; for bus drivers, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for secretaries: front line of the school, greeting visitors, managing students, getting paperwork in and out, answering phones, making all of the difference in how people see the school; for secretaries, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for nurses: who bandage knees, treat headaches, dry tears; who give treatments that keep kids breathing and eating; who allow kids to be in school at all; who send them to the hospital when it's needed; who make sure, above all, that the students are healthy and get what they need; for nurses, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for custodians: who think of the schools as their own; who clean, scrub, mop,shine; who spend the night at the school when the power isn't on to be sure all is well; who get there early when it snows to get the walks cleared; who retrieve balls from the roof and retainers from the trash; for custodians, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for instructional assistants: who do what need to be done; who guide behavior, sound out words, hold hands, hear stories, remind of steps, check small groups, make copies, manage projects, help all of our kids learn; for instructional assistants, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for those outside the classroom: for guidance counselors and adjustment counselors; for occupational therapists and physical therapists; for hearing specialists and vision specialists; for anyone who does what is needed to allow our kids to learn to their fullest potential; to those outside the classroom, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for teachers: who create lessons that "meet objectives," adjust to the Common Core,  prepare for MCAS, and still somehow teach what students need to know; who bring home stacks of papers to correct, lessons to plan, forms to fill out, worries to consider; who come early and stay late; who are passionate about what they teach and make kids feel that way, too; who notice the kid who suddenly isn't talking, has gotten thinner, is getting lost; who make the kids feel safe on days when there's a lockdown or no water or a nor'easter; who still wake up at 3 am the first day of school with butterflies; for teachers, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for principals: who come in on Sunday afternoon and stay late at night; who cheer on sports teams, applaud musical performances, and admire art projects; who visit lessons and meet with parents and monitor lunch and analyze test scores and return phone calls and somehow remember it's all about the students; for principals, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for administrators: who answer an email at 9 pm on a weekday or 10 am on weekend; who patiently explain what that is, how that works, why we do that, for the third (or fourth) time; who are up at 4 am to make the snow day calls; who genuinely want the system to work better and who strive to make that happen; for administrators, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for all those who do jobs that are rarely seen: who write grants and who manage IEPs; who fix locks and who make signs; who fill out blizzards of forms and who make sure the computers are running; who mow lawns and who plow snow; who make copies and who update websites; who order supplies and who make the numbers add up; for those who do all of that and more, I'm grateful.

I'm thankful today for students: who are thrilled to read you their first story; who want to show you their science lab, their excellent paragraph, their newly learned song; who are struggling to learn their second (or third) language; who are determined to learn to read, to memorize the 8's table, to pass the 10th grade MCAS, to make the team, to get a 4 or better on AP, to pass calculus; who don't settle for the way things are, but set out to fix them; who make what all of us do worthwhile; for students, I'm grateful.

I'm also grateful to be a member of the Worcester School Committee. It's an honor and a privilege. Happy Thanksgiving. 

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