There are some things that bother me about my kids’ public elementary school.
I don’t like the Accelerated Reader Program, where kids get points for taking tests about books they’ve read. I think all kids could benefit from learning the stuff that’s only taught in the “gifted” program. I hate school lunches. I wish the elementary school had foreign language. I don’t care for standardized tests, and I don’t see the point of homework. I wish the older grades had smaller class sizes. I think Physical Education should be offered every day.
But yesterday, as I watched teachers laughing and playing with their students on the soccer field, carrying water balloons, cheering them on in relay races, offering unsolicited hugs and words of encouragement; as I saw the transformation of children during the past school year who were shy– come out of their shell, who went from having trouble grasping a concept to knowing it well enough they could teach it, who started out struggling to read then became fluent in the written word; as I witnessed how children inherently accepted one another despite cultural or religious differences; how easily they smiled and laughed in hallways, while searching for books in the library, while sharing their meals in the cafeteria; as I discovered over the year just how many teachers stay after school for hours after the day ends, go the extra mile for their students, take the extra time to write words of praise in the margins of worksheets to show their students just how special they really are; as I watched, tea in hand, my kids walk to school on the last day with a hoard of neighborhood children–leaving just after 7 AM in the morning– simply because they want to be at school as soon as the building opens…
I realize that while we’re ready for vacation and a break from the hustle and bustle routine of school, part of what makes summer vacation so special, is the fact that we are so very lucky to have such a wonderful place for them to return to at summer’s end.