After our staff meeting the other day about huge demographic swings and our "school's report card," I got to thinking about my school and the students there. I was thinking that most of our students don't know a single thing about the man our school was named after. There is very little history in the school about the students who were there in the past. In fact, the most historical evidence of who we are as a school community comes only from the teachers who have been there for the last twenty years. They understand who we are as a community, and they come through whenever there is a family in need or with a sick relative, or a baby is born with special medical needs. Teachers understand this sense, but what about the students ? How can we teach them about what community means? How can we foster a sense of unity and unified identity as "tigers." What does it mean to be a "tiger?" What are our strongest attributes and accomplishments? We do address this by displaying student work. Truly I enjoy walking down our halls and seeing what all the 4 to 11 year olds are doing.
Students spend the majority of their waking hours at school. They need to feel valued as a student and community member to find purpose and meaning in the work they are doing there. They need to feel encouraged by their peers and teachers, to meet the high expectations that we have met before and will continue to pass with flying colors in the future. There is a storyline to this. We all have a story, and our collective students have a story about where they have come from and what great things they have done, and this is not accounted for in the "school's report card."
I came back to this theme thinking about my own personal life. I have been living in Green Bay now for seven years. I don't have family there, but I do feel like I belong. I feel like I have community. Being a single parent, I have constraints to ensure my son spends his placement time with both his parents. I came to think that home truly is where the people you love are, and when my son is away it doesn't feel much like home. I have community but a shaky home. I have grown to love my students and the people I work with much like family, and I feel very much at home where I work. I want my students to feel that "homeyness" too. Not all children go home to a place where they are cherished, but I hope that if they feel that way at school they will be glad to be there and do whatever it is we're doing.