Friday, November 23, 2007

Leadership Toledo, Part V

The post is a little late, as my last Leadership Toledo meeting was last Wednesday, but that also was the day that I caught a 5 PM flight to the BNI conference. So you all will pardon me, right?

Wednesday, November 14, was education day.

Our leader, Dave Schlaudecker, had sent us an email that had this quote about the day we were about to have, "We have no control over what you experience at a school." Couple that comment with the fact that we were divided into nine groups, additionally the students from Youth Leadership Toledo were paired with us and that I was assigned to an inner city elementary school made for some negative anticipation inside my head.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Mapquest got me to the school with only one small hitch. Really it wasn't Mapquest, just the streets are kind of kinked down near the school. No big deal.

Principal Diane McGee met us at the door and ushered us into the library where breakfast snacks and juice awaited us.

Wow, what a school. Toledo Public Schools is going through a large revamping of their buildings, and this school is brand new. It even has been renamed. The old building that was torn down was known as Cherry Street School and now they are proudly known as Rosa Parks School. TPS has lost enrollment numbers in the last couple years to private and charter schools. Diane proudly told us that they ended the school year (in the old building) at less than 200 students and began the year with 289 students. Certainly the new building made a difference, but Diane makes the building come alive. Each grade has three classrooms, so the class size is only about 17 students per classroom.

Her teachers have been there at this school for many years. As we visited classrooms I saw so many dedicated and fun teaching methods that I wanted to stay all day.

Each day begins with announcements at 9 AM. A small group of students helps with the pledge and the EXERCISES. Yep, that's right. They have a healthy living initiative. Each morning the students roll a big dice (what is singular for this word?) that has various types of exercises
listed on each side. We did toe-touching, jumping back and forth over a line and jumping jacks. Diane does the exercises right along with the students. We also participated and I've got to tell you that after a minute of jumping over the line and a minute of jumping jacks, I was winded!

The kids were all very well-behaved. Diane said that really they have few
problems in this area. The biggest challenge is helping the kids to understand the difference between home rules, community rules and school rules. For example, in the community if someone says something even slightly bad about your mother, you have to fight. Obviously, at school that is NOT the course of action.

After our visits, the LTers and YLTers gathered to report back to each other the strengths and weaknesses of each school. Of course, money was an issue for many schools. We again divided into groups to figure out how what challenges are facing our education system as a whole and what we might suggest as solutions.

For me, LT is doing helping me to expand my horizons. I want to stay connected with Rosa Parks School beyond just our morning there. Diane McGee is a wonderful beacon for this neighborhood and I want to be sure I figure out a way to help.

Thanks, Dave, for providing an opening for my positive inner city experience and helping me to reset my attitude.

When has education or enlightenment helped to change your attitude?


1 comment:

Leasa said...

When I worked for a nonprofit, several of my co-workers volunteered at the Ella P. Stewart primary school in Central Toledo. We were part of their Ohio Reads program, tutoring students in second and third grades to help prepare them for Ohio's reading achievement tests. I met some of the sweetest children there who not only wanted to be better readers -- they wanted to be loved.