Before my daughter was officially enrolled in school I still spent a good amount of time hanging around there. I thought this place is so cute, the students are friendly the staff is nice… what am I missing? I looked, I hung out on the playground waiting to see which kids pushed others down. I waited to hear rough language. I waited to see kids running down the halls yelling when they should have been in class. I just waited and waited until I realized I’d been waiting a long time.
I can think of this one time when a new student enrolled and started causing a ruckus out front after school. It took me about 2 minutes to find Dr. J, the principal, who was able to effectively address the situation. When I think about that day there are a few things that stand out to me. How easy it was to find the principal, how quickly she responded to my concern, how instantaneously the children responded to her presence and how important all of those things are. Knowing the the principal is totally on top of things makes me feel safe.
I love how small our school is. How all of the staff and teachers know all of the students and their families. I love how everybody knows me and my kids. That makes me feel safe too. And when I’m at Barclay I see the same things. The principal, Jenny, knows all of her students. It’s kind of amazing actually. I split my time in elementary school between a big city public school and a small public country one but can’t say that I remember having any sort of personal contact with the principal from either. That impresses me.
Finally, I also love being welcomed into the building any time. I try not to hover. I try to give my kid some space but I like hanging around at school chatting with my friends and watching her have fun.
It’s true that public schools have a bad rap as sometimes being out of control crazy places that are not conducive to learning. That reputation may or may not be fairly earned. I don’t know. Right now all I have time to worry about is what I can see in front of me right. And it’s true that there have been times where I’ve seen behavior at our school that was less than shining but so infrequently and they are just kids after all.