A thank-you to our elementary school teachers

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 5/29/18

Many moons ago, back when I was still in a phase of my career in which I had to purchase my pay raises, I had to take a class called “Trends in Modern Education.” I remember very little of the …

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A thank-you to our elementary school teachers

Posted

Many moons ago, back when I was still in a phase of my career in which I had to purchase my pay raises, I had to take a class called “Trends in Modern Education.” I remember very little of the class, actually, mostly because the professor of said class hadn’t been in an actual classroom in about 30 years, and, of course, by the time a trend is understood well enough to be a part of a curriculum and textbook, the world has moved on from that trend to some new trend.

But there is one thing I remember from that class (though the exact numbers are a bit fuzzy): in nearly every survey, Americans tend to be very skeptical about the direction of the schools — something like 60 percent feel that the schools are not very effective. But, when asked about their particular school district, they are slightly more positive (about 50/50), and, when asked about their individual school, they tend (about 70 percent) to feel they are doing a good job.

Think about that. Across all demographics and geographies, Americans think ‘schools’ are bad, but their individual school is good. How is this possible? I don’t know — that seems to me to be one of those “lies, damn lies, and statistics” sort of anomalies.

What I can say for sure is that I am now, for the first time in 17 years, no longer an elementary school parent. Tuesday night we watched our son shuffle shyly across the stage, shake his teacher’s hand, and, suddenly, we’re done. And with regard to those elementary schools, count us among the 70 percent. We actually spent the first six years at our neighborhood school, and, due to some odd cultural things at that school (not ethnic—as in the climate of the school), we then open enrolled the second and third kids to a nearby school. And, as far as the two schools themselves go, we could not have been more happy. It’s an odd thing, in this day and age, to send your kids off to school, but our kids felt safe, cared for, pushed and challenged throughout their elementary experience.

So I would just like to take a moment to say a heartfelt “Thank You” to the men and women— all of whom are colleagues of mine, all of whom are of the highest quality and character—who have shaped our children’s experience. To Tami, Leon, Carine, Delana, Ted, Carmela, Megan, Amy, Andy, Laurie, Jessica, Star, Mary, Deb, Keke, Melissa, Melissa, Ginger, Tria, Zak and Julie: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

In an unrelated note, former students/survivors of Lasley Elementary (go Lions!), Mrs. Farrar — who taught kindergarten there for, well, ever — is putting together a kindergarten reunion for June 9. Contact the school or myself for more details.

And, lastly, for this month’s adventure in beauty. I was recently at Ft. Logan National Cemetery, and it struck me that there is, in the orderly uniformity of the headstones, a unique beauty in that place. In the ranks and files of our honored dead, there is a simple testimony about sacrifice, patriotism, courage and faith. Go there. Go at sunrise. And don’t go this week, when it is all adorned for Memorial Day — go another time, and give the anonymity a chance to overwhelm and humble you. Go.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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