Education Opinion

A Parallel Universe

By Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D. — February 28, 2008 2 min read
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It’s strangely like living in two parallel universes at the same time. We are still staffing vacant positions, purchasing A-V equipment, maps and globes, etc., all activities for the opening of school. At the same time, we are beginning plans for the end of year faculty retreat. We just hired a certified computer teacher, and the second special education para educator. Simultaneously, we are discussing the opening of school teacher training institute for the 2008 – 09 school session. We’ve contracted with a former principal to assist with the formal teacher evaluations so that they can be finished by the beginning of May. That’s so we can offer jobs for next year to teachers who earn satisfactory ratings. We are concerned about the upcoming LEAP tests and planning things like looping for some grades, summer remedial sessions for students who fail the high stakes tests, and summer enrichment classes for those who will take the tests next year. We are still applying for some of the federal dollars available to us this year while trying to begin formulating an operating budget by July 1 for next year.

One of my former supervisors, Dr. Bill Thomas, used to say that good faculties close schools; they don’t fold schools. His meaning was that we close carefully to open better the next year. That’s what we are trying to do these days. The time seems to be flying by and it’s hard to believe that the third quarter ends in two weeks. There is still so much to do.

Today, I attended a Black History Month program presented by students in Pre-K to 4th grade. The Kindergarten play by Rosa Parks was hilariously touching. The students recited their lines very confidently. I was impressed. Another class recited a poem entitled, “Hey, Black Child.” They were outstanding. Other groups sang songs and did recitations. There was no dancing or shaking going on like we see all too frequently in our schools. There were lots of parents present which I realized before entering the building, when I couldn’t find anywhere close by to park my car.

The teachers also gave out award certificates for academics and attendance today. I think that was the most exciting part for the parents. The principal says that third quarter certificates will be distributed at the next PTA meeting. I think that is a great way to get parents to attend the meeting.

Actually, the idea came from the mother of one of my former students at Haley School who has a second daughter at Mc 42. Her older daughter didn’t win any awards that I remember. She was a character and a bit of a terror. The younger sister is warm, smart and delightful. Her mother is very proud of her school accomplishments. When I asked the younger girl about her older sister, she reported that her sibling was doing very well these days. The mother remembered that we made a big deal of awards and recognition at our old school and wanted to know if we would have a big awards celebration at the end of the year in this new school.

Ironically, the principal brought up that subject to me last week. At the same time that he is giving out awards for the first semester, he’s planning the end of year awards program. There goes that parallel universe thing again.

The opinions expressed in Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.