They wanted to shut down and privatize this struggling school in Austin, Texas. The students, the teachers and school staff, the parents, union members and the community came together and transformed their school into a great family of learning. Here are some of the images and stories they shared with us.
We begin with a video the students made. (Warning:tearjerker)
I often use the term “Whole Child”. It’s not a cliché to me. It is practically my religion these days to consider what this reform or that shiny new thing, will mean to our blessed and whole, happy children. It rarely means something good.
And so, it is a comfort beyond words to me to know that those of us who care about the needs of the Whole Child – mind, body and character – are not alone and that choir of voices is growing. In a very short space of time, three books landed on my desk that are worthy of passing on to the world. They deal with the emotional and mental health of our little ones.
Visiting Feelings by Dr. Lauren Rubenstein, illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger
The first is a beautifully illustrated children’s book; a soft poem that is a lullaby to children in preschool or primary grades that takes a “mindfulness-based” approach to the many feelings that children will experience.
I always started my day at Orchard Elementary checking my mailbox in the school office for any memos, flyers, notes, you-name-it. I ended my day the same way.
Looking back now, I remember that Margaret, our school secretary, was already at her desk greeting students, parents and us by the time I got there. I remember, now that I think of it, that Margaret was still there when I passed by my mailbox on my way out the door. And I prided myself that I got to school pretty early and usually left hours after the kids went home. But Margaret did, too.
One morning, I saw flowers on her desk. A large bouquet with a card still attached. I smiled. “Is it your birthday, Margaret?” I asked.
She smiled back, looking a little embarrassed. “Well, no,” she said. “It’s the strangest thing. I was heading home yesterday, and when I got to the parking lot, I noticed one of our kindergarteners standing on the sidewalk. Well, you know it gets dark so early now, and I wondered why she was standing there all alone.” (more…)