Although Abby has honed her test-taking skills and Ford has proven to be a remarkable student, I find myself reporting that I am the one learning from this public school experience. I want to be totally honest, so here goes. One of my initial reservations about sending my kids off to public school had a lot to do with the fact that they are in the minority. The majority of the students in both of my children's classes are Latino. I was worried about this for two reasons. First, I imagined that there would be a large language barrier and that this barrier would make it difficult for the teachers to do their jobs, thus making the class struggle overall. I also imagined that the parents would be less involved because of the language barrier. I have found these two concerns to be false by and large. I often see Spanish speaking mothers, accompanied by the parent liaison, checking on the progress of their sons and daughters. And a shout-out to the parent liaison who is AMAZING. She translates everything at meetings and virtually kicks ass every day. She may well be the most important person that works there. Secondly, the kids have little communication issues, if any. They're little sponges who learn from each other so quickly that for the most part I don't see it getting in the way of studies at all. My Kindergartner has a couple in his class that don't speak English very well but by 2nd grade they're pretty much on the same page linguistically. I do know that language arts tends to be the tougher subject with a lot of them, but not to the point I expected. They are spelling, reading, and writing away.
Putting all of the academics aside, this is what I have learned most of all. I have learned about my own desire to help. I have discovered unused compassion deep within me. There is a little boy in my daughter's class who I will call Eddie. Eddie is a behavior problem in the class but I was unaware of this until I went on a field trip with them last week. The first thing I discovered about Eddie is that he is very smart. I quizzed him on his spelling words on the bus and he knew all but one and they had just gotten the list. You could see how proud he was of himself and he loved all of my encouragement. Then we arrived at the adult-led field trip and he started exhibiting more and more disastrous behavior. He would do one thing, get in trouble, be removed from the group, return to the group, then escalate the behavior a little more and start the cycle all over again. By the time we were headed back in the building for a craft, he was making everyone (including me) miserable. I took a moment to try and give him some perspective. I told him to start over. He said he couldn't. I told him to brush it off, put it all behind him, and start over. He said it was too late. I told him that it's never too late. I honestly don't think anyone has ever told him that before. Within a minute, he was running to catch up. He wasn't perfect from there on out, but he didn't get into any more trouble and he had a good time. I have seen Eddie at the media center twice since then and he seems so happy to see me. I was pretty tough on him, but I think he may have learned something too. I always wave and say hello to him and that little bit of attention brings a huge smile to his face.
Abby and I talked last night about setting a Christian example for others to follow. I told her that they know us by our actions and I told her how proud of her I was for her compassionate heart and her concern for her peers. I told her that God would definitely use that trait in her. I have always loved that quote from Shakespeare, "All the world's a stage and we are all but players." (or something like that). Even if the world is a stage, life is not a play. It is real. The more we start living the truth in our simple day-to-day lives, the closer we become what God intended us to be. God laid it on my heart to trust Him, to try the public school, to get involved, to push the edges of my life to the limit and do more. That's exactly what I'm doing now and I swear I learn something new about humanity and the heart of Jesus every day. The door to my heart has been flung wide-open and for that I say thank you God!!