Follow @EllenGrabe Grabe's Gatherings: Husky Pride

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Husky Pride

I was first introduced to Emerson Hough Elementary School in March of 2005. It was the conclusion of my very first real life interview. I will still currently a student teacher in another district and due to graduate in May of 2005. Feeling good about how I did in the interview, I enjoyed walking the halls at Emerson Hough to see what this school had to offer.

As I was guided through the building, I admired so many of it's features. The main office was the first thing I saw as we entered. As we roamed through the halls I commented on how large the classrooms were and how they had ample space for engaging hands-on learning activities where the students could get out of these seats and onto the floor to explore. I was shown the large lunch room with doors that went straight to the playground, equipped with a large soccer field, a baseball diamond, a track, and what the school called the "fort". My immediate thought was, 'I hope I get this job so I can play out here!'

We walked through the second floor of the building and I was able to look through the large picture windows over the vast gym and see students actively engaged in physical activity. I watched for a few seconds and commented on how beautiful the gym was, again with so much space and windows that illuminated the area with natural light. There was also a door that lead straight outside for the nice days that the P.E. classes could go out eliminating the need to walk through the halls which could distract the learning that was taking place in the classrooms.

A week later, I was offered the job. I eagerly accepted it as any college student would do that still had to finish college. I couldn't wait to step foot in Emerson Hough as one of it's teachers.
The keys were handed over to me later that summer. I spent hours cleaning out my classroom and preparing for my first year of teaching. I didn't know what to expect, but was ready to jump in. Come August, I was overwhelmed with help and support from other teachers in the building. They offered me materials, they offered me items for my classroom, they offered to help me plan for my first week. WOW! What a welcome that was!

Although the staff in the building were wonderful, it was the students that I instantly fell in love with. A high percentage of the students had very little in their lives. Small homes, split families, and an unknown of when they will eat next. The neighborhood the school was in wasn't a high class area and often had crime in it, but the students felt safe at school. How lucky these students were to have a high quality facility to learn in when they came from homes full of drugs and abuse. What a wonderful way to give these kids opportunities they probably wouldn't have in another town or building. I have seen other schools in low class areas with broken windows, small gyms, and playgrounds that weren't safe to go on. These kids may not have had a great home life, but they sure did have a great school life. You could ask any of them and they will tell you how much they loved their school. The four years I spent there were full of tears, laughter, learning, and growth with these students. I have more stories from just four years than I thought I would ever have in my entire teaching career. It was hard for me to make the decision to leave Emerson Hough and teach preschool in another building. My decision was made out of curiousity and desire to see what other teaching positions I could make a difference in. Although teaching preschool has been rewarding and full of surprises, I have felt an absence ever since I left Emerson Hough.

Last Monday night it was announced at the school board meeting that Emerson Hough would close its doors starting next school year in attempt to save money from the budget cuts. Emerson Hough was voted to close over another building in the district. The community is in uproar over the decision, as Emerson Hough has many features the other building does not have. What a sad day it was to hear that the place that jump started my career and made me fall in love with teaching was to close and sit vacant. I think I speak for many others when I say, closing the doors to Emerson Hough is just like closing the doors to learning for many of the children in our community. I have mourned over the loss of Emerson Hough this week as have the many members of my Emerson Hough "family".

Change is inevitable. It is hard to accept when it is out of our control and seems so very wrong for the children in our town. Teaching isn't about money or long vacations. It is about the KIDS and helping them to grow and succeed in every way possible. The teachers in the Newton district have a challenge ahead of them. Starting the school year of 2010-2011, we will have more students in one building, less space per student, and fewer opportunities outside the classroom. I have all the confidence in the word that the teaching staff in the Newton district can handle these changes. I have yet to meet a teacher who does not care about the education of these kids, so together we will move outward and onward.....with the children being our drive.

A quote a friend recently shared with us from the movie "Hope Floats" starring Sandra Bullock goes like this...

"Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it is the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning; just give hope a chance to float up. And it will."

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