At our monthly Admin meeting, around the table with our superintendent and administrators preK-12, we were discussing plans for our school for next year. We reflected on the later start (8:30) we implemented this year and agreed it has been very successful. There were no complaints about free breakfast in the classroom for PreK-8th graders. There have also been fewer office referrals in the lower elementary, which is likely due to some additional recess time added to the day.
We did not even mention our, now three, school therapists because the ‘new’ has worn off, and it is just what we do for our kids that need services.
As we looked at our list for next year:
- Social & Emotional Teaching & Learning
- Nurse Practitioner
- JAG – mentoring for high risk students to learn job readiness skills
- Biomedical Instruction
- Teacher Cadet Program,
the question arose around the dentist – are we turning into socialists? This was said with a grin, but is also a question that we can sometimes struggle answering for some in our community. Do we, as a school district, provide ‘too much’ for some of our families/students?
As the director for our free afterschool program, I have contemplated this question. And I have answered it for a variety of audiences not only in our local school district, but also for our state representatives and senators and for our congressmen and women.
I have decided that the only time we ever view any of these services as the school giving ‘too much’ is when the individual already has that service in his or her own life. If I provide dental care for my own child or take him to the doctor when he is sick, I may believe that is the job or role of the parent – not the role of the school. But I have that belief because that is what my parents did for me; and therefore, it is the responsibility of any ‘responsible & caring’ parent.
Throughout my fifteen years in education, I continue to see more and more areas where students and families need the assistance of community groups, churches, and yes, schools to help provide the best care for the children. I choose to see these services, my own free afterschool program included, as investments in these young lives.
As a school, we may be getting broader and broader in our services, or, just like Mr. B said, we could just be eliminating more and more of the barriers to student learning – which I am certain we can all agree IS the job of our school.