Dr. Bill Atwood

Magic of schools

During this week and next the parents of school age children will be sending their children off to school. I often joke that this week would be the best week to try to pass a school bond issue. Parents can breathe a sigh of relief that the kids will be supervised during the day and that the usual routines of family life return.

The kids in our communities seem to really enjoy the return to the campus because our neighborhoods are not like the cities. Many of our kids live multiple miles apart from one another so school is the only place for certain social interactions.

Having been a public school educator since 1980, I have also learned that the kids enjoy seeing the teachers and staff and they really do enjoy learning stuff. Kids are always asking about stuff. Why is the sky blue? How much does a cloud weigh? When was the War of 1812?

It is the school teacher who creates the magic of learning and it is the school teacher who sets the lessons, creates the assignments, delivers the instruction, grades the papers, and assigns the grades. However, schools are not only successful because of the teachers. Aides, security folks, custodians, gardeners, bus drivers, mechanics, secretaries, librarians, cafeteria workers, district office staff, superintendents, board members, administrators, techies, and volunteers all make the school a safe place of learning.

Without them, the campus is a place where buildings just sit without purpose. Add the kids and the adults and the magic is created and the results are amazing. From our area schools have come welders, carpenters and other workers in the various trades. From our schools have come doctors and lawyers and business leaders. The realtors and the insurance agents along with CPAs and secretaries have studied at our schools.

Our schools have created the emergency services personnel along with people in the media. Forest rangers and national park personnel have sat in the classrooms of our area schools as have people from Sierra Telephone. The local restaurants and shops have our graduates and there are countless other jobs I have missed who are filled by kids from the public school system. Don’t forget the knowledge we offer in the area of the Arts. Music, art, dance are taught in our area schools.

Some people enjoy pointing fingers at the failures of the schools to deliver certain skill sets and people laugh at foolish sounding folks on television who can’t identify Ronald Reagan from George Washington or when the Civil War occurred.

The fact the buffoons are on TV tells a great deal. We find it funny because it is the exception rather than the rule. The attackers can point to the few who probably dropped out.

I take delight in being a part of the Public School System. We take whatever kid shows up at the door. No entrance exam, no financial requirement, no citizenship requirement. The kid arrives and we set about the task of educating that child. Disabled? We meet it head on with the required accommodations. Hungry? We feed them breakfast and lunch. Live a far distance from the school? We send the bus. Need after school childcare? We offer it.

We teach what is required by the federal and state governmental leaders. Few are trained educators to be sure. We publish our test scores in the paper and we monitor our progress. Just remember when there are large numbers of people taking tests, the numbers tend to fall to the middle scores. Not everyone can attend college or be the top student in the class.

So what can we all do to help the schools and the teachers? Parents need to ensure that their student comes each day, well-rested, healthy, and ready to learn with the homework completed.

Many of our area businesses already give a slew of money to help out each school so we as individuals can send a check to one or more campuses. Schools need pencils, paper, hand sanitizer, staples, tape, and a host of other supplies. If you are unsure just call and ask. Trust me, the secretary will have an answer for you of what is really needed.

During the cold months kids need jackets. Yes, I know, that is the parent’s job. Maybe junior lost the coat or maybe mom just lost her job. We all have sweaters and extra jackets we can deliver to a school after making sure it is clean to help that chilly youngster stay warm.

We have a real blessing here in our communities. When you look at the product which our schools produce, realize it is what happens when great kids from great families meet up with great teachers and great school staffs. Donate, support, and thank the area school staffs.

One last thing. The kids are walking to and from school so be extra careful when you drive.