Saturday, November 2, 2013

It Does Take A Village

Families. Parents. Community. Our children. Without these groups of people, none of us who have dedicated our lives to the world of education would have a career at this point. Our children are shaped, impacted and educated by the people in their lives, in their homes and in their communities. Our children's social experiences before and during the schooling years can very much dictate the trajectory of their lives and as educators we must respect that, appreciate that, consider that and value that. I know that our son, Paul, is who he is today because of the way our family - his mom, grandparents, aunt, uncle and me - has influenced his thinking, shaped his beliefs and devoted our lives to his happiness and well being. As a parent, all I can hope is that his teachers will understand and value that Paul is my heart and soul and everything I do, I do for him. As an educator, I must remember to step back and look at every parent through that same lens!

Recently I read a post by Matt Gomez stressing the idea that we must Start Believing in Parents Like We Do In Kids and it resonated with me for so many reasons and on so many levels. First off, as a dad, I found myself shaking my head and thinking, "YES Matt - AMEN - THANK YOU!" But it didn't end there because as the Lead Learner of Cantiague Elementary I couldn't agree more with Matt. In fact, I have devoted myself to serving the community and specifically dedicated a lot of time to "flattening the walls" of our school so the community knows exactly what our children are experiencing and what we believe in as an institution. I believe in the concept of servant leadership and it is my goal each and every day to best serve our children, staff and community at large.

Well, after reading Matt's post and thinking about my role as a dad coupled with my career as an educator, I remembered that the families of our students are our support, our allies and our partners in doing what is in the best interest of our children. Our families are dedicated to their children - their education, their development and their well being. That may not look exactly the same for every family - not every family can donate something for the Bake Sale; not every family can come to the Book Fair; not every family can make a parent/teacher conference; and not every family can help with homework. There are families who are struggling to survive financially. There are families who are battling illnesses or addictions. There are families going through divorce. There are families who are uncertain about their next meal. There are families who are navigating situations and problems that we couldn't even fathom. But, every family is dedicated to their children; every family lives for their children; and every family will do whatever they can for their children (I agree with Matt- I believe 99.999999% of our families are good people who are trying to do right by their children). We, as educators, can never forget these realities. We must remember that a strong home/school connection that is focused on meeting the needs of all children should always be our goal. We must work together to help our children achieve their hopes and dreams. We must embrace the idea that it takes a village to educate and raise a child. 

Below is an excerpt of an email I recently sent out to our families at Cantiague thanking them for their tireless efforts in supporting our school because without them we would not be successful...

"Although we are all consumed by our incredibly busy lives and our many obligations and responsibilities, I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you, on behalf of the Cantiague staff, for your unending support of the children and our educational community as a whole.
Over the last month, between the Car Wash, the Book Fair, Red Ribbon Week and most recently our successful PARP Week, many of you took the time out of your busy schedules to be at Cantiague supporting these special events and most importantly, spending time with our children. As a working parent I know how difficult it can be to juggle everything to be there for our children and still attend to the many responsibilities in our lives. Yet, somehow over the last month each one of our families have been involved and present at Cantiague for one event or another and we cannot thank you for these efforts.
The longer I work in education the deeper I appreciate the importance of a strong home/school connection – a connection that is unhindered by physical walls; a connection that keeps our children and their best interests at the center; a connection that speaks to the idea that it takes a village to raise and educate a child. Thank you all for your presence, your support and your active role in our children’s development and education – Cantiague Elementary would not be the best school on the planet if it weren’t for our amazing families and unending support. 

It is an honor to be the Lead Learner of this amazing community."

I share this email because I think it is important that we celebrate the successes within our community and that we thank our families for all they do each and every day. Without them we would not be in the business of education. 

So, the next time I am ready to blame a family for something a student has done wrong, I am going to pause, flip it and try giving them the benefit of the doubt. I am going to look at things as Paul's dad - not just as the Lead Learner of our school. I am going to remind myself that our families are dedicated to their children. As Matt suggested, I am going to believe in the parents like I do in the children because our children deserve to be educated by a village working together!             

1 comment:

  1. Tony your heart is as big as it can be!
    I am honored to be part of the Cantiague family