I was just in second grade this morning, after the very first performance of Shrek Jr for the student body. The second graders were so excited about seeing the play, the songs, and the dancing - many of them with siblings on stage or some kids that they look up to.
As they talked excitedly, I said "Friends, that will be you up on stage next year!" as third-fifth graders do the big musical. It's quite a right of passage at TCM.
A few children said "Not if they close TC Miller."
All the faces around them fell.
I answered, "No, no; it will be open one more year after this! So you'll get one year up on stage."
This didn't help.
Something they should have been excited about and looking forward to has become tainted and sad, knowing their home is about to be closed. You're running this as though children's lives are not attached to your decisions.
The teacher and I shared the same message with these second graders we have all year with surface level details that placed the blame on buildings, and let them know we are still there to love them and take care of each other. It's like a tiny bandaid on a huge wound. What they hear is... "You aren't important." Every day, parents and teachers face our kids being disturbed and hurt and struggling.
As John Eccles said in the meeting before last, if someone was kicking you out of your home and separating you from your family because "they know best," how would you feel? I saw that on the children's faces this morning and it broke my heart. We are trying to shield and protect these children while also delicately navigating them through devastating news that utterly destroys their world.
They asked me "Are they going to save TC Miller?" I said, "We are trying to talk to the leaders. Even if they don't hear us, we still use our voice, right? We do all we can." They nodded. We do all we can.
I listened to Mr. DePaul last night say the school board shouldn't backtrack on decisions because it would show that "whining and crying gets you your way." He described the board as having 'backbone.' Do you think your community sees it this way?
I see it differently, Mr. DePaul. One of the most important things we teach our kids is that change and progress occurs when people use their voices to stand up for what is right. To call the public you serve "whining and crying," was true insult and fails to understand the importance of community relations.
One of the most important things a leader can do is stop and course-correct when needed, when presented with more information by the people they are leading. A leader requires humility, empathy, and the ability to think strategically.
We have presented a very simple way to save our school, that would increase our capacity by over 100 students, including meeting the needs of 54 MORE preschool students and bringing more elementary students to our excellent school without exceeding classroom sizes for which we receive funds. We understand you are in a difficult position, but you can make a better choice for LCS, and we are still asking you to as soon as possible. It's a win-win-win situation. Using the data, research, metrics, meetings, comments, and yes - also the heartfelt part of leading a school system, save TC Miller.
Our students deserve to keep their home. They deserve their chance at traditions they've loved for years. They deserve quality education. They deserve a better plan than the haphazard one they face currently. They do not deserve the cards they've been dealt this year.
We hope you see you at a Shrek performance this week, and we hope you are still open to and considering our preschool/elementary hybrid proposal.
Thank you. Again, please reach out any time to discuss logistics or questions.