What Makes a Good School?

Our family went to a carnival at my daughter’s new elementary school. While we were there we started talking to a wife of one of the school employees. We were commenting about how much we liked the school and how happy our daughter was to be there. This person mentioned that, even they live in an area on the other side of town, they were planning to send their kids to this school as well. My wife and I assumed it was because her husband worked there, but then she explained why they would be sending their kids to this school. She said this school was great, but not because of the principal, or the teachers and not just because of the kids either, but what made this school great was the parents.

The parents? I thought. Really?

She went on to talk about how involved parents were. How they always helped volunteer. They were always able to give either their time or their money to help the school when it had a particular need. And how the parents are the ones setting the good examples at home for their children. They teach them proper behavior and respect. Parents are the ones making sure kids do their homework, making sure their kids are getting enough sleep at night and making sure their kids eat breakfast in the morning.

If you are a teacher or an administrator and these are the types of kids that are sent to your school each morning, it is highly likely that many will be successful.

I started to think about all this and it made sense. My first year of teaching, I taught in a school where parents weren’t involved at all. I remember a conference with a mom whose fourteen-year-old son couldn’t read. The teachers offered to find him some lower-level books on topics that interested him. When we asked mom what things he liked to do, she had a blank look on her face. She had no clue. This poor kid didn’t stand a chance.

I’ve also taught in schools that were the exact opposite of what I just described. School where parents were EVERYWHERE, all the time. It was the same way at my daughter’s last school. Parents were involved in every part of the school. They were always coming up with ways to get the community involved in the school.

If you want your kids to go to a successful school, you need to be a part of it. I know, this is something I desperately need to work on myself. I always have the excuse of a one-year-old hanging on to my leg and a three-year-old holding on to my hand, they are my built-in excuses for not helping out at school as much as I should. I know there are things I could be doing for the school and I’m not.

But, the conversation from last weekend has me all fired up and ready to go. I’m ready to volunteer wherever I’m needed doing whatever I can. Now if I could just find someone to watch my two younger kids while I do it…


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