Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Today is the "Grade-In!"

My first teaching job was in the coal mines in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. I was so young. The truth be told I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was so grateful to have a job after college, and I went after this one with great gusto.

I finished my degree in Scranton, Pennsylvania and we were living in a small house on the side of a hill in Clarks Summit. It was a great little town. When the boys were young, I put the twins in a stroller and Abe in a back pack and we went down the hill to town every day. We bought cookies from the bakery, exchanged our books at the library, bought stamps at the post office, and sometimes did a little grocery shopping…although not much as there was no place to put the groceries. One day as we were walking one of the shop keepers came out the door and whisked us all inside just as a big black bear lumbered down the middle of the street!

When we moved to Indiana to live off the land, I didn’t teach for a couple of years. And, then one day, it just fell into my lap. I was actually calling Ginny Sparks about selling my green beans. That was the year I was picking them by the garbage bags and I just couldn’t can any more of them. Ginny said, “Too bad you aren’t a teacher, you would make more money and we need teachers at Hamilton Community Schools.” I told her I was a teacher and she gave me the name of Steven Kesslar and his phone number at the school. I called. We set up an interview. Did I want this job? Well, probably not and besides we had no running water at the time. I took a “shower” in the pond in early May, put on my Goodwill skirt and blouse and headed over to Hamilton.

Do I daresay it was magic the moment I walked in? Do I daresay it was magical for 30 years? It was magical to work for a principal who would always give approval before the ideas were out of my head! As I think back on those days (30 years’ worth of days), I am in awe of them. I always, and let me repeat that, I always loved going to school. And there were some trying times in my life. The school embraced me…well, the school embraced everyone. Am I making a plea for the life of the Hamilton Schools? Well, of course I am. It is the heartbeat of that community. I saw it firsthand every single day. There must be a school in Hamilton for the children and for the parents. There must be a school for the community, even if the community does not always realize this. Anyway, another related topic.
Hamilton Community Schools, MSD, Prairie Heights, and Fremont are all public schools with teachers who give from their hearts and their pocket books. (I know that to be true in every way.) Somewhere along the line, we, in Indiana, have missed the opportunities to fully support these public schools. I know I grew up with public school…my kids…my students…my family. Oh, if only I could publish list after list of college graduates and their accomplishments.

I love Indiana public teachers and the work they do. I have also seen the decline in teaching staff. I have watched good friends and great teachers leave the field. We should have the cream of the crop in there with our kids…our grandkids. Don’t you agree?

There are ways to help and one is coming up this week. On Wednesday, from 4-6 on the Courthouse lawn in Angola, teachers are hosting a “Grade-In.” This is a peaceful event with teachers bringing chairs and papers to grade to bring awareness to Indiana’s teacher salaries, excessive testing and other issues. Guess what? We can all go and show our support for our favorite teachers and schools. I know I will be there. I am so proud of my friend, Scott Hottell from Angola Middle School, for putting this together.
All of my grandchildren go to public schools in Angola and in Charleston. I want so much for them, and I want their teachers to be appreciated.  

Our teachers need us. They have worked miracles with our children. Now it is our turn to stand up for them. We can help make a difference!!
See you Wednesday!

*First published at KPC.