STORYBOOK TIME AT HILL-ROBERTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Yesterday I read a book to a fourth-grade class at Hill-Roberts Elementary School in South Attleboro. Granted, I was a bit nervous. It had been a long time since I had read to my two adult daughters, Arryn and Kate. But it’s like getting on a bicycle. You never forget how much fun reading to children can be. It reminded me of reading “Little House on the Prairie” to my daughters.
So I brought my baseball glove, a baseball, wore a Manny Ramirez vintage Red Sox shirt and my old Red Sox hat. Twenty-five children snuggled down in the reading nook in the corner of their classroom, sat on a rug and listened to “Zachary’s Ball”. It’s a story about a nine-year-old boy who went to a game at Fenway Park. Zachary went with his Dad, was dreaming that he made a great catch in left field, pitched the final winning World Series game, and caught a ball in his seat. The children loved the story.
Several of the 4th graders told stories about balls they had caught, or been given, both in Fenway and while watching the Paw Sox. The told me what they loved about Fenway Park (the Green Monster, hot dogs, and the dirt infield). All eyes were on me while I read the story. It turned out that Zachary’s Ball was a Magic Ball. When we were finished I turned and gave my baseball to the girl sitting on my right. She was delighted…. but I reminded her to the ball was magical and she needed to share it with other children. She nodded yes.
Listening to “Zachary’s Ball” was a magical time for both myself and the children at Hill-Roberts!
We had a lot of fun! These children are precious and we need to give them the best education humanly possible. Hill-Roberts is a really nice school.
Play Ball !!!!
Friends – I am starting a pilgrimage to visit principals, teachers, and students at each of Attleboro’s schools. Our schools are over 50% of our budget. We owe Attleboro’s children the best possible education we can give to them.
My first stop this past Tuesday was at Wamsutta Middle School with Principal Joe Connor and 572 students. What a gentleman! Principal Connor gave me a full hour, took me to several classrooms (art, music, gym, STEM, and a science class. The children were engrossed in their lesson in every class, independently working on their various projects. I saw a dozen children playing keyboards, an entire class working on a DNA project, a STEM class that was exploring why there is no sound in space (did I understand this concept correctly?). Wamsutta children appear really blessed to have such dedicated staff and administrators.
This learning goes forth despite an average of 28 to 30 students per class. A 20-year-old school that looks great at first glance, but it is pitted with leaks, the carpets are worn and the keyboards are 15 years old. The entire school has just one adjustment counselor. But I saw lots of enthusiastic, well behaved and interested children. I met several teachers who are clearly devoted to educating the children. And I met Joe Connor, a principal that really cares.
- First language is not English: 18.1%
- Students with Disabilities: 17.7%
- High Needs: 43.8%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 31.4%
It was a good day at Wamsutta Middle School. I bet this school has lots of good days.
Today ended early with a big thunderstorm at 5 pm. I was on Kellcourt Ave. speaking with Joe about his family, neighbors, and friends. He loves his area and really likes Attleboro. Joe moved into his home in 1992 and according to him, it was one of the best decision he’s ever made. Block parties, a friendly neighborhood, and a great place to raise his family. I liked Joe instantly. He signed my nomination papers, asked for a sign, and then the rain hit us.
A few hours earlier, I met a young woman on Commerce Way who simply glowed. Emily is a senior at Bridgewater State College and plans to be an elementary school teacher next fall. She did her student teaching in Attleboro during her junior year and loved it. The only drawback was the size of the classes which really surprised her. Regardless, Emily wants to come back to Attleboro and spend her career teaching in her hometown. When I left her door, her eyes sparkled again, she smiled and declared, “I love Attleboro!”
Lots of positivity in both Joe and Emily. I can’t wait to meet the rest of this city!
Please join us Saturday 9/8 from 10am-12pm as we hold signs downtown. Help us #TyAttleboroTogether!!!
Saturday, August 4th – Today, after the rain, I met someone who once played an important role in our city. This is an abridged version of the story:
Not so long ago, the school committee didn’t have enough money in the budget to meet the request of the teacher’s union. The school committee figured out a fiscal compromise. If the teachers could accept level funding for an additional six weeks beyond the end of their contract, they could then save the jobs of 8 teachers. After mid-August the teachers would then get their raise.
The union turned down the school committee’s offer. The budget was too tight and eight teachers were laid off. The teachers did not even get to vote on the compromise offer.
Both of my wives were teachers. On one occasion we had to make a similar decision. Accept level funding or see other teachers get laid off. We decided it was best to live at the same income for a while so other teachers and their families could have a job. The teachers union took a poll of all the teachers and they accepted the compromise. No one was laid off.
If I were on the city council I would not want to see qualified teachers/city employees laid off. But in a tight financial year it might mean employees are offered less to save jobs.
I hope it never comes to this. But compromises are sometimes necessary to keep our city solvent and people working.
I hope to have a happy story tomorrow.
Ty, on the trail.