Today I visited my younger son’s school, Sterling Elementary, and had a very enjoyable visit with their principle, Ms. Monda Reynolds. She showed me all over the building, and I was able to see a number of areas that I had not been in before. I do have two children in the school system, and they have both attended Sterling; therefore, I am somewhat familiar with it, but Ms. Reynolds was kind enough to show it to me anyway. One of the things that has always struck me about Ms. Reynolds is her relationship with the kids of Sterling – I know my son loves her, but it is always nice to see the interaction that she has with them. Today I had an even better glimpse into what she means to “her kids” when we went into a computer lab (that I had not seen before, btw), and no less than 4 Middle Schoolers jumped up and gave her a hug, and the rest of the visiting class waved and called to her. As I said above, it was really wonderful to see.
Of course, as any administrator would, Ms. Reynolds had her “wish list,” but hers was especially short. I’m sure she has many other things that she would like, but her real wish appears to be for an awning for the front entrance. She is concerned about our children being out in the weather – sun in summer, and rain and snow in fall and winter. She knows it’s in the works, but her hope is that it will happen soon. This is a good cause, I think. It’s not extravagant, but it would improve the appearance of the school as well as the comfort of our children.
I have to admit, I was a little surprised that this awning was really her biggest request. I had imagined her asking for support for more technology, or more assistance with Special Needs, but they actually are set up pretty well in these areas. I know from experience that the Special Needs program is good, although I did not realize how many kiddos there were in it – 50 in the SpEd rooms (not counting the Language/Speech rooms), and 20 in the Gifted program. I have had plenty of experience with this program with my own son, and while I can not say it’s always been smooth sailing, I can honestly say that they are always trying to to do what they believe is best for the kids. Any rough patches we have experienced seem to have developed from differing opinions of what “the best” is, or from a lack of communication and understanding between the vested parties. This is something I really hope to help bolster from within the School Board.
The technology in Sterling is very impressive. They have 1 portable laptop cart, 2 classrooms with Netbooks, 3 eMints classrooms, and 1 iPad room. Next year will hopefully bring another iPad cart so those can be more mobile within the school building, and at least one classroom that will have an iPad for every child. This is a school where the children are learning on line – they are getting invaluable experience that they will take with them into Middle and High School, and I would love to be able to support efforts to technologize every classroom in the building (if not in the district!).
In closing my account of this very enjoyable visit, I would like to note that Ms. Reynolds mentioned the communication that she has seen between the schools in glowing terms – from Sterling to the Middle School, especially. It certainly sounds like our experience with this transition should move very smoothly, with lots of planned meetings and discussions, and I am truly looking forward to that. Some of our experiences have not been quite so smooth in past years, and much of that is from ignorance on our part, as well as assumptions made on the part of the schools. I hope as part of the School Board I will be able to help with the communication and support that ALL parents and staff need – not just those with special needs.