Central Elementary

Last evening, I had the chance to attend back to school night at Central Elementary for the sixth year.  Central has become a very warm and comfortable place for our family.  It was nice to see good friends.

Families who send their children to Central Elementary are sometimes asked the question, why?  Why would you send your child to a school where the aggregate CSAP scores are below the district average?

The bottom line as a parent: My children are becoming creative, engaging and mentally agile young people.  Central Elementary contributes to their development.

We have to pry books out of my oldest daughter’s hands at night so she will sleep.  A love for reading has been cultivated at Central as well as at home.  She often comes home making connections between art and history.  That’s a product of her Central experience, too.

My son has a natural curiosity that appears limitless.  Every night as I turn off the lights in his bedroom his voice follows me out the door saying, “I just have one more question.”  His curiosity has continued to grow since he began at Central.  He too is beginning to discover the discipline, if not yet the joy, of reading – thanks to his first grade teacher and his parents.

I can imagine these or similar traits developing in my children at other elementary schools, too.

What makes Central Elementary special for us is the spirit of the school’s community.  The Central community includes a wide range of families.  There is a richness of diversity there that does not exist in many schools in our district or in the country.

As in any community, there are some families that neglect basic responsibilities and fail to pull their weight.  That’s frustrating.  For instance, I would have liked to see more families at back to school night.

There are also families and teachers that are making heroic efforts to provide children with opportunities.  Indeed, at Central Elementary, our children are able to witness people whom I consider to be great role models.

          They see families that rally to influence the direction of the school when things seem off course.  They learn that people working together can make a difference.

          They see immigrant couples who work three to four jobs, attend English classes and enroll their children in summer school in hopes of providing their children a chance at the American Dream.

From these examples, our children learn that opportunity requires great effort and sacrifice.

          They see children with learning disabilities (sometimes shunned by other schools) who are welcome members of the school community.  Our children learn to value people for who they are.

          They have come to know families who adopt children to provide opportunities and bountiful love.  Our children learn how love can change the life of a child.

          They see teachers who acquire a struggling student mid-year and stay extra hours with colleagues to figure out strategies to support this student.  The student dramatically improves on their CSAP compared to the previous year though it is still a score that brings down the class average.  Our children witness teachers hanging in there with students who would be easy to write off.

I can name a dozen ideas that would improve the educational experiences of children at Central Elementary (I would hope parents with children at any school could name such ideas.  There are always opportunities to improve).  I have spoken out and I will do so again I am sure.  Few people at Central would accuse me of being silent.

Our family chooses to stay and be a part of Central’s ongoing efforts to improve.  Our children learn that we will not run away just because there are a few bumps in the road.

Academics are certainly at the core of every successful school.  And, our children’s academic needs are being met.  But, schools are also the place in which children develop their personal and civic character.

We choose to develop in our children a personal and civic character that embraces people from all walks of life.  We choose to instill in our children the value of sticking with your community even in challenging times.  We want our children to learn that greatness comes from doing what is right, not what is easy.


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