New Beginnings (School Notes)

By Jon Steiner

It's the beginning of yet another school year and it is hard to believe my daughter is in fifth grade-her final year in her comfortable and nurturing little elementary school. As I reflect back on why I feel that way about her school and what makes any school, in general, a warm and welcoming environment for learning, it occurs to me that it's like a giant puzzle and many pieces have to come together to create the right atmosphere. It isn't just one thing or group of things that makes it so.

Obviously, the quality of the teachers and their genuine concern for each child is the foundation. Building on that involvement is an administrator who knows each child by name and is excited to be with them every day, doling out guidance, discipline, respect and encouragement. Nurses, custodians, cafeteria workers, aides, volunteers and others round out the mix.

Volunteers come in on weekends to paint classrooms. Teachers make sure that kids who need a little extra have snacks, or sneakers. Parents quietly buy a winter coat or boots for a child in need, or pay for a field trip. In short, everyone involved in the school treats every kid as if they were their own kid.

We recently had an all-school barbeque on a Friday evening to celebrate the students meeting their summer reading goal. It started at 5 p.m., and all kids and their parents were invited. Who came? Everyone. Not only were the teachers there, but maintenance staff, aides, central office staff, coaches-it became a community event with a line 50 people long for hot dogs and burgers. After the barbeque, kids and parents hopped in their cars or on the bus and rode to the high school to watch the football game. Again, parents, teachers, staff and kids mingled, played, chatted and enjoyed the cool fall evening in small town New Hampshire. It is an evening I will not soon forget. My family has been fortunate to have a school like this in my community, and I hope you do as well. It has been a great place for my daughter as a student and for my wife and me as parents.

As many of you may know by now, this will be my last "School Notes" column. I have accepted a new position out of state and will be leaving LGC later this month. I have enjoyed my work with local officials, service on the school board and with the New Hampshire School Boards Association. The dedication all of you possess is impressive. I am hopeful to find as dedicated a group of people in my new role.

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