Truth be told, I’m not sure. I just know that I’m tired of being alternately sad and angry about a situation that continually mars our school and divides our community. Today, I need to find some happiness in this situation. Work with me.
We have a problem in our district. A problem that has been years in the making and is the fault of a long line of elected officials who lacked the forethought to plan for the inevitable.
In our town alone, builders were permitted to come in and create small cities in a community that was initially designed around a Main Street village. Our town officials happily granted permits while ignoring the impact on our tiny little village schoolhouse. Builders happily accepted those permits and simply didn’t care about the impact. Our school district, watching those houses pop up where there were none before, didn’t consider long-term solutions or simply refused to make difficult decisions that would have altered this outcome.
So, here we are. A school and community divided by a long line of bad decision-makers.
This year, our district decided it was time to tackle the proverbial elephant in the room. They formed a committee of parents, community members and district employees to take on the difficult task of removing and/or moving that elephant. Neither of which will be an easy task.
I recall the emails that went out looking for members to join the committee. I didn’t get those emails because I’m special or because I know somebody on “the inside.” Quite the opposite. I got the email simply because I have children in the district and, therefore, I am on the district email list. I knew, based on previous experience, that my school would be the target of this committee and so I had a decision to make. I could join the committee and hope that my opinion would, somehow, leave our school intact or I could ignore the invitation and leave the fate of our school in the hands of others.
Like dozens of others, I chose the easy route: I ignored the invitation.
I love our school. No, that’s not right. I don’t love our school, I adore our school. It has that rare combination of wonderful families and outstanding teachers. Teachers who nurture our kids and families that recognize how hard our teachers work each and every day. It has the feel of a true community, surrounded by local businesses that give out special treats when the whole school parades through town on Halloween and who come out to listen to our kids caroling during the holiday season. Our Kindergartners get to decorate the Town Hall Christmas tree each year and every June, we celebrate the end of the school year with Hugs Day; a day that wouldn’t be possible without donations from both our school and business communities.
Removing even one family or one teacher from this scenario would alter the dynamics of our school and, simply, make our school something less than what it is right at this very moment. I don’t know a single person who wants that. The problem is, all of these wonderful people simply don’t fit in our tiny little schoolhouse.
It’s difficult for me to find happiness in any of this, but I’m trying.
First, I’m happy that I have a friend who didn’t ignore the invitation from the district to join a committee faced with difficult decisions. I’m happy that she made the decision to be pro-active and fight for, not only her own kids, but for my kids and for every other kid in our school. I’m happy that she gave up her time and became part of the desperate attempt to save our school, our teachers and our families from a fate that none of us wants. I’m happy to call her my friend and, without question, every person involved in our school should be happy to have her on our side.
I’m heartbroken by the realization that even our best efforts may not be enough to maintain our school. I’m heartbroken by the realization that a long line of bad decision makers have caused us to point fingers at one another. I’m heartbroken by the realization that we are blaming each other for decisions that are out of our control. I’m heartbroken that all of this is happening. But, today I need to find some happiness in all of this. And so, I will simply be happy for my friend who put herself out there. I will be happy that so many people feel so strongly about our wonderful little school. I will be happy that so many people are now paying attention and I will be happy that I am part of a community that cares so much.
Yep, today I will simply be happy that my kids have a school worth fighting for.