Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: MONTESSORI SCHOOLS OF FLAGSTAFF

- Jeremy Adair

My first introduction to the Montessori philosophy was when I sent my
children to pre school at the West Side Montessori Preschool. It was a
great experience for them and gave them a solid independent start to
their education. My daughter is now a Montessori teacher at Haven
Montessori. It was 20 years ago that I started my first year of
teaching art at the Montessori Charter School of Flagstaff. Teaching
art has been an amazing experience for me. I run into children I have
taught over the years that are now in collage or beginning their
careers as young adults. It has been fun to watch numerous children
and their siblings grow to be young inspiring adults.

Jim and Marlane Spencer were the original founders of the Montessori
Schools of Flagstaff. They had a vision and went to work to create an
amazing learning environment for the young children of F-lagstaff 30
some years ago. Our school is currently under new management as Jim
and Marlane have retired but their dreams for educating young children
continues to grow.

Our current director Kim Loaiza is highly educated in the Montessori
philosophy which is implemented in all of our classrooms by our
amazing teachers and staff. Our administration is always willing to
give immense support to the teachers, students,and parents that are a
part of the community at Montessori Charter School.

Art Music and Spanish are important components of the curriculum at Montessori.
As the art teacher, I am greeted each morning by beautiful, respectful
and enthusiastic young children ready to create their own masterpiece.
Teaching art for grades 1-8  really gives me the chance to challenge
each and every student with the knowledge of art and its history
through the techniques and numerous projects we explore each year. It
is amazing to see their work develop and their confidence soar from
year to year. It has been a great pleasure to work all of the years
for such an amazing school.

For more information on Montessori Schools of Flagstaff, please visit http://flagmontessori.com

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: MOUNTAIN SCHOOL

-Jacki Lenners

When I became a stepmom almost 10 years ago, my stepson was about to enter kindergarten. His mom got up before the sun to stand in line at Mountain Charter School registration, securing his place in the kindergarten class. Things have evolved, and thankfully there is now a lottery system, but the core of what drew them to Mountain School in the first place, is still there as my daughter enters her second year (first grade). 


After having our daughter at Haven Montessori (another fabulous charter school, and the reason that I had the fortune of meeting Cristy) for the previous four years, it was a huge decision to switch things up for kindergarten. But, we knew she was armed with a strong foundation, and Mountain School had always been part of our plan. 


Mountain School’s foundation begins and ends with its people and their overwhelming love for children. Ms. Renee, the school’s founder, had a vision of creating a place where students can grow individually and families play an integral role in the school. Ms. Gina, the principal, is standing out front every morning, greeting parents and kids with hugs and words of encouragement. She sets the tone for the nurturing, caring environment that permeates the school. My daughter is a hugger (this is not genetic), and I’m blown away as she walks the hallways, throwing her arms around various teachers. 


Mountain School has that “small” feeling, but the programs and amenities are anything but small. Our daughter anxiously awaited her art, PE, Spanish, and music classes each week. SeƱora Michelle fostered her newly discovered love of Spanish, and Ms. Maggie’s spring music performance is something I remember attending for my stepson each year, and I’m so excited to continue that tradition. 


Academics and hugs aside, one of the things we love most about Mountain School is the before- and after-care program. While I wish I could pick her up at 3:15 every day, that’s just not possible. These programs are often an afterthought at schools, but Ms. Sally puts my mom guilt at ease, creating an enriching, fun program full of activities, crafts, and games. 

I’m so thankful that Mountain School came into our lives nearly a decade ago, and that our daughter has the opportunity to experience this awesome school! 

For more information about Mountain School, please visit www.mountaincharterschool.com!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: HAVEN MONTESSORI SCHOOL

-Ross Altenbaugh

True story: I MOVED to Flagstaff so I could send my kids to Haven Montessori. *Full disclosure my sister (and co-founder of 48 Months!) is the Executive Director at this adorable little mountain school in Northern Arizona. So I am definitely biased but this is all still true! 

Haven is this amazing place where children (from six weeks to sixth grade) can truly learn to be respectful, thoughtful, and intentional little human beings. The heart of Haven is centered around Dr. Maria Montessori’s method of valuing the whole child including the emotional, physical and social development of the human spirit. My sister won’t love that I am about to curse on her blog, but this is my post so who cares (am I right?): HOLY SHIT THIS SCHOOL CARES ABOUT MY BABY’S HUMAN SPIRIT. 

Cue the waterworks. 

On the first day that we took our 15 month-old Abraham, my oldest and only at the time, to school I was very nervous. Ms. Beth (aka the Toddler Whisperer) was standing and greeting each friend as they came in the classroom. All of the kids were changing into their indoor slippers and beginning a “challenging work” in the classroom. What do I mean by a challenging work you ask? You know - typical stuff all babies do at 12 months. Things like flower arrangement, washing a table, washing dishes, or squeegeeing a window. Was Haven creating the next generations of Flagstaff’s janitor population? No! The classroom had been strategically designed to encourage the children to CHOOSE works that interested them as people. Each of those enjoyable “works” helped these little people improve things like their motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and fostered peer learning. Simply fascinating. 

And even though I didn’t think Abraham was big enough to do those things on his own or do anything independently really (after all he was a baby in my eyes), he proved me wrong. He fit right in to the classroom community and it was not but a few days that my child was sitting with friends in his own chair eating lunch unassisted. 

You see, that is what Haven does. They consistently create an environment for your child to amaze you. And that just keeps happening as both of my children grow at Haven. They learn from the older kids while helping teach the younger children. After all, isn’t that how it is supposed to be? 

All I know is that our current political situation would look very different if our President had been able to learn at a place like Haven Montessori.

For more information about Haven Montessori, please visit www.havenmontessori.org!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: BASIS FLAGSTAFF

-Alicia Vaughan

I love the small, impassioned community at BASIS Flagstaff. I have the unique perspective of being a teacher, a parent, and now an administrator, and in each role, every year, I am blown away by the collective talent of our teachers and the extent of our extracurricular activities. Teachers come to us with expertise in their subjects, and often after having work experience in their field. They are passionate about their subjects and we see that translate to students. It is a rigorous curriculum, and that is backed up with a wealth of academic support, and plenty of opportunities for growth in our clubs, or in AIA sports. Our seniors do inspiring research projects that have positive impacts on our community, and then go on to college – usually with scholarship money. As a parent, it’s amazing to see all that my child is learning, and the dinner time conversations have gotten much more interesting. Our families and booster organization are committed and supportive of our mission, and spoil us by filling the teachers’ lounge with goodies, hosting socials, and putting on the end of year luau. BASIS Flagstaff is a special place.

For more information on Basis Flagstaff, please visit http://www.basised.com/flagstaff/

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: SINAGUA MIDDLE SCHOOL

-Rory Faust

Our family faced a unique wrinkle when researching middle schools – not only would our son be attending middle school for the first time, he would be attending school for the first time. After seven years of home-schooling, we decided to send our oldest son to middle school two years ago. Yes, we too questioned the sanity of this decision. Middle school isn’t exactly the softest landing spot for a home-schooler, at least that’s what I thought before our Sinagua experience.

After researching all of the in-town options and applying to several charters and magnet programs, we finally settled on Sinagua’s STEM magnet called Middle School Institute of Technology and Engineering, better known as MIT-e (pronounced “mighty”).  Our oldest son had such a wonderful experience in his first semester that his younger brother was begging to apply to the MIT-e program, and a year later we had two sons enrolled at Sinagua.
The coolest thing about MIT-e is students get to tackle real-world projects that involve problem-solving and hands-on work. Teachers present the students with problems and students design and engineer solutions, using only household items to complete their projects. 

Each project begins with an idea, progresses to the execution stage with the teacher’s assistance, and then is tested. Most projects are team-based so students can work together on a solution. Our sons have designed and built bridges, prosthetics, tennis racquets, a desalination still, and a future city, among other things.

To enhance the learning experience, teachers bring local engineers and business owners into the classroom to discuss real-life problems they are trying to solve in their professions, and students are often involved in the idea-solution process. The MIT-e program has a competitive admissions process. Prospective students must complete an application which consists of a questionnaire, two letters of recommendation, and an in-depth essay. Not everyone gets in, and those who are admitted must maintain at least a B to stay in the program. Additionally, students must re-apply every year to continue in the program.

The benefits of Sinagua Middle School extend far beyond the MIT-e program. Because it is a former high school, the facility offers more amenities than any other middle school in town – a large auditorium, two gyms, a band room, a turf field and rubber track, and a modern, spacious building.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is that the administration, faculty and staff do an amazing job fostering a positive and accepting culture. Sinagua feels like a friendly community, whether you are a continuing traditional student or a home-school student dropped into middle school.

To learn more about Sinagua Middle School please visit https://www.fusd1.org/sms

Friday, August 18, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: FLAGSTAFF JUNIOR ACADEMY

-Katie Woodard

We have had a child or two at Flagstaff Junior Academy for the last 7 years and we are so grateful we found this school! There are so many great school choices in our town. FJA goes from preschool to the 8th grade. The preschool is Montessori based and the kids are in multi-age classrooms through 4th grade. As a younger child in the classroom, they learn so much from the older students, and the older students gain so much confidence by teaching the younger kids. The kids are outside almost daily! The teachers are top notch and really take the time to individualize the kid’s education. Kids the same age can be at several different math and spelling levels.

We have been on some of the most fun field trips around during our years at the elementary school (and yes, I went on quite a few!). We visited the Biosphere 2 in Tucson, the Grand Canyon, Lee’s Ferry, the Phoenix Zoo and so many more. There are many great learning experiences at the middle school as well, including the chance to participate on the ski team (not an FJA team but accessible due to FJA’s schedule) take a San Juan River trip, visit Catalina Island and bike to the Grand Canyon! The after school activities are endless and include mountain biking, basketball, ultimate frisbee, cross country and so many more.

FJA is very well rounded and really focuses on educating the whole child. I see really curious, confident and happy kids there. The school feels like a wonderful and big family, and the teachers and staff are my favorite part of the school!

For more information about FJA, please visit http://fjacademy.com.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: W.F. KILLIP ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTER

- Katie Krause

W.F. Killip Elementary School and Community Learning Center is a true community school. Located in Sunnyside, Killip services students and families within walking distance to the school. Although we have several students who attend outside of Sunnyside, we are a walking school with no buses. Killip is a Title-I School with 100% Free and Reduced Lunch. We are proud to offer our students and families a safe place to acquire academic support, as well as other opportunities to enhance their interests and passions through our afterschool programs. We are known every year for our successful chess program and school garden.
 

Killip is a STEM school where all K-5th grade students have the opportunity to engage in real world learning through the lens of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Our teachers and Instructional Specialist have worked hard to create units based off the Next Generation Science Standards. In these units, students read about the science concepts, engage in an engineering task related to a real world problem which also has tie-ins throughout the academic day with math, social studies, art, and technology. Within each unit, students hear from guest speakers, volunteers and attend fieldtrips to further the connections made in class. Killip is truly preparing students for a rigorous 21st Century world.

We know all students at Killip. I am very proud that the teachers meet weekly in collaborative teams to develop units, revise them, look at student data, have meaningful conversations about data and student needs, and make action plans for all students. We have extension opportunities and every student receives targeted interventions at their level daily. Every student at Killip is our student, whether they are in our class or not.

I have been teaching 5th grade at Killip for 7 years and I am so proud of my school. We are always looking for ways to collaborate with community members, parents and teachers and aim to help all students reach their full potential. Killip teachers make it a priority to get to know our families and celebrate diversity and various cultures.
 
Because we are a community school, we are always welcoming community members to get involved with our units and the opportunities we give our students. Being a Title-I school, we appreciate tax credits allowing us the chance to further experiences for our students and support for teachers. 

To learn more about Killip Elementary please visit https://www.fusd1.org/Page/978

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: FLAGSTAFF ARTS AND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY


-Hannah Staudinger

FALA has the reputation for being a school full of flowery hippie children dancing and singing their lives away. That is, well… not entirely false. The flowery hippie children are there, but they aren’t just singing and dancing their lives away, they’re singing and dancing because their lives depend on it. Every single person at the school has their “thing" and some people even have multiple, but the ability to completely throw themselves into a piece of work without hesitation is at the core of every FALA student. Nothing is done halfway, every person is held accountable. As stereotypical as it sounds, passion oozes from the school. And while many of the students may not want to necessarily go into the arts professionally, the balance of intense passion for the arts and challenging academics help to shape students into well-rounded and compassionate human beings.

As a student, I get frustrated with the school, with teachers or a performance or whatever else it may be, but I love it. It boggles my mind what the school is able to accomplish with the money we have, and I can only imagine the heights to which we could soar given a budget that is less restrictive. In my time at FALA I have been able to take rigorous AP courses, coordinate an event to raise awareness for homelessness in our community, and travel to the state capitol to lobby for environmental stability as well as participating in numerous theater and dance performances, and that’s just me. Other students are able to contribute in any infinite number of ways.

FALA gives students life changing experiences without even knowing it. In April I had the opportunity to perform in Shoah: Salvaged Voices, a play based on Alexandra Zapruder’s Salvaged Pages, a collection of diary entries from Jewish teenagers in  the Holocaust. The show, written by the Advanced Creative Writing class, was already incredibly emotionally taxing for both the writers and performers given the nature of the content. Then, on the last performance Doris Martin, a Holocaust survivor attended the show. I went into the lobby after the show, and I will never forget how Doris approached me with tears streaming down her face and said, “You described what it was like to be me when I was your age. You explained me.” That was the moment the switch flipped and I realized, other schools don’t give you that, other schools don’t force you to connect with other people like that.

Our school is able to do so much good given what we have, I cannot imagine what it would be able to do if each person who read this were to donate five dollars.

To read more about FALA (and donate your $5!) please visit http://flagarts.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: NORTHLAND PREPARATORY ACADEMY

- Dee Engelthaler

Northland Preparatory Academy (NPA)... sounds snooty, doesn't it? Elite, exclusive, even.  It isn't. NPA is just like every other middle or high school in Flagstaff. Just smaller. No tuition. No entrance exam. No cafeteria. No football team. Okay, there a few nuances to NPA besides its lack of football team and cafeteria.

At NPA, the class sizes do not exceed 22 students. This means your teachers will know who you are, by name. For better or worse, you will not just be a face in a crowd of thousands. Your classmates will also know who you are. You will get to know everyone, and they, you. I'm not saying you will be BFFs with the entire student body, and walk the halls hand-in-hand singing, "Kumbaya," but you will get opportunities to talk and connect with others who maybe you never thought you would. You will learn to push yourself... academically, emotionally, socially, and maybe even athletically!  As a student at NPA, you will hopefully find strength and empowerment in your abilities as a student and as a person. You will learn to balance the rigors of academia at NPA, while also nurturing the other things that are important in life, to you, whatever those may be... music, chess, dance, leadership, sports, and so on.  You will be reminded daily, by me, your friendly neighborhood Spanish teacher and Peers adviser, that high school isn't forever...NPA isn't forever.  It's just a stepping stone to help you create the person you want to be in life!

For more information on NPA, please visit http://www.northlandprep.org

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: DEMIGUEL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

- Chrissy Speer

In the months leading up to my daughter finishing up pre-K, I drove myself nuts trying to find what school would be best for her to start kindergarten.   We are so lucky in Flagstaff to have so many options for elementary schools and with so many specialty charter schools here I honestly wasn't even considering my neighborhood school.  I mean why would I send my child to (GASP) public school when there are so many other options that are also free?  Long story short, after sitting in on 3 different kindergarten classrooms to observe, I walked in DeMiguel without an appointment.  Within seconds of walking in the building, I could tell it was a pretty amazing place.  From the high ceilings to the windows to the huge plants everywhere to the smiling faces everywhere...I just felt good in there.  The principal happily showed me around on the spot.  The classrooms were large, the library was enormous, and the hallways were covered in student artwork.  My mind was made up by the end of the tour that DeMiguel was the perfect school for our daughter.

Here we are with our oldest heading into fourth grade and our youngest heading into second and I know that the decision I made 4 years ago choosing DeMiguel Elementary School was one of the best I have ever made.  The teachers and the volunteers of DeMiguel work tirelessly to create amazing experiences for the children every single day.  Just a few things that stand out over the last year are field trips to Grand Canyon National Park, Walnut Canyon, and the Museum of Northern Arizona.  Our PTA put together a fun run that raised almost $40,000 completely with volunteers and 100% of that money went back into our school!  I think about all the afterschool programs offered like chess club, glee club, Club Invention, and Odyssey of the Mind that keep our kids happy and engaged when we are working.  But mostly I think about the sense of community that my family feels as we walk through the halls or go to a STEAM night or hang out at the local park after school.  Sending your kids off to school is scary and sad and exciting all at the same time and it isn't always perfect.  I have so much gratitude for the educators, parents, volunteers, and friends that have made this journey a happy one.


For more information on DeMiguel Elementary School, please visit https://www.fusd1.org/demiguel.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: PINE FOREST CHARTER SCHOOL

- Shelly Thomas (Mom of Pine Forest student Sam Thomas)

My son’s friend came over the other day. Both boys have attended Pine Forest School since kindergarten and are about to enter their final year there, eighth grade. I asked my son’s friend if he’s ready to go back to school. He said, “I can’t wait to go back. I really like school.” In the presence of my son I asked him what he likes best about Pine Forest. They both looked at each other and laughed saying “No Homework!” This is a bit of a myth, because they definitely have some, but not enough to overwhelm.  The majority of the work happens during the school day. Prodding them a bit more about what they like they expressed the number of field trips, learning in the field is a big part of the curriculum. They have been to a number of places including Catalina Island Marine Institute, Chaco Canyon, Arches National Park, and the San Juan River, to name a few.  This year they may venture to Washington D.C. or Hawaii! 

As a parent, Pine Forest has given my son the ability to socially interact in a way many other schools do not. The work on cooperative communication is tremendous. Children are actively solving problems together. There is a genuine respect for one another and a lack of judgment for those who are “different”.  There is no teaching to the test, rather teaching to be successful in real life. There is a reverence for beauty instilled, beauty in the natural world. They get their hands dirty planting outside and building. There is a strong focus on the arts, singing, painting, and playing music. Probably the biggest myth of all about Pine Forest is that there is not enough focus on reading, writing, and math. This has been a false perception of many in the community. Academics are simply not the only focus. Whole human beings are being developed, something lacking in our society today. I am so grateful for this school and the person my son is turning out to be. 


To learn more about Pine Forest visit http://pineforestschool.org

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Month 8 School of the Day: MARSHALL MAGNET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

-Angela Yamauchi

What do we love about Marshall Magnet Elementary School?

My daughter’s response to this question: She loves all the activities like art and dance and music. She thinks it’s awesome that she got to learn folklorico dance from Mr. Sergio and photography from Mr. Bacon. She likes the science fair. She likes that the teachers make learning fun. She appreciates that the teachers say they chose to be at Marshall rather than another school, which makes her feel special and that she is at a special school. Her favorite part though is the friends she has at Marshall. She loves her friends.

My experience at Marshall has been as a parent and as an instructor from the community for their elective program. As a parent, I chose to send my kids to Marshall and to the Flagstaff Co-operative Preschool located there for several reasons. The first is that this is our neighborhood school. I feel fortunate that our kids have the old-fashioned experience of walking/biking to and from school (although I have to admit that I pick them up in my car on my way home far too often). Secondly, I value the diversity of the student population at Marshall. It mirrors my own experience growing up in a racially and ethnically diverse community of immigrants in L.A. I firmly believe that early childhood experiences with a diverse group of peers helps us to first see people for who they are, rather than for “what” they are. Finally, I appreciate the focus on enrichment, as evidenced by Suzuki violin instruction for all K-2 students and the Magnet Monday elective program for the older students, with classes such as FIRST LEGO League, Photojournalism, Ballet Folklorico, Gardening, Chess Club, and so many more. I myself became involved in the Magnet Monday program as an instructor for a short time. The staff was open to new ideas and was wonderful in providing support and working with me to create a STEM-based class. I am impressed with the level of involvement by the teachers, staff, and other community members who work at Marshall because they truly care about the students.

One final anecdote: At a recent baseball game in Phoenix, my daughter sat next to an older woman and talked her ear off. At one point the woman told her that she was a “smart cookie” and asked what school she went to. After my daughter answered, the woman then asked whether it was a charter or public. My daughter didn’t know, so I answered for her, proudly – “Public!” The woman remarked, “Well, they must be doing a good job!” Yes, they are.


More information about Marshall Magnet Elementary School can be found at https://www.fusd1.org/marshall.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Month 8 of 48: SCHOOLS!


At its core, my activism is a result of my frustration with the mess that our children are on track to inherit. I worry that they’ll be the first generation in modern history that will be moving backwards in all of the wrong ways. My 2am anxiety spiral can take me to a place where my adult children and their families are fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that is a cross between Mad Max,  The Handmaid’s Tale, and Jurassic Park.  (Hey, this is MY anxiety spiral and sometimes it inexplicably involves dinosaurs coming back to life, don’t judge). As a result of this anxiety for our children, I feel compelled - REQUIRED - to seek out solutions that help them prepare for what comes next.

Therefore for Month 8, as we all begin to say good-bye to summer, Jacki and I would like to do something a little differently.  We want to spotlight SCHOOLS! Yes, it’s a very broad topic and in Flagstaff we have so many excellent choices on our menu.

Full disclosure, I am the Director of a small Charter school in Flagstaff, the Haven Montessori School. Jacki and I know that  “the charter vs district school debate” is a hot topic locally, state-wide and around the country right now.  WE AREN’T GOING THERE.  We want to celebrate our teachers, administrators and children as we move into the 2017-18 school year.  I firmly believe that the choices parents makes for their children are THEIR choices. Sometimes the school that was great for Kindergarten isn’t the right fit for 3rd grade. Sometimes teachers, parents, administrators, children or all of the above just don’t have good chemistry.  Sometimes kids need a fresh start for myriad reasons. On this page we are not going to judge parents or schools for the choices they make. 

In Flagstaff, there are a lot of really fantastic choices and when I talk to parents, I encourage them to look at all the options so they can truly assess what school is best for their particular child at that particular moment in time.  It can be overwhelming, and I do know that for some parents making the school decision is agonizing and very stressful. Here is what I would like you all to know. Children are tough. They are so much stronger, and infinitely more flexible, than most adults. With your love for your child driving your decision-making, you simply cannot go wrong.  If it doesn’t work, as Jacki likes to say, “Guess what, it’s still America (at least for now!) and you can change your mind.” YOU are doing a great job out there and YOU need to give yourself a break. Go get a glass of wine, you’ve earned it. (But come back and finish reading, please).

Here’s our plan for Month 8:

Jacki and I have asked friends and acquaintances from every school in Flagstaff to write about the school in their lives. We have parents, students and teachers writing about what makes their school amazing! We will feature a “school of the day” throughout the month of August. We encourage you all to chime in with comments when you see your school come up, and tell us what you love about it!

In the meantime… what’s our work for this month?  Y’all, the schools really need us.  Here are the action items we have put together for this month.  TIME TO GET BUSY.

CASH MONEY:  As someone who pours over budgets and bills for a school, I can tell you that things are not good right now. Funding is unpredictable and pots of money are quietly disappearing without notice. Supporting your child’s school financially is important. Consider a straight-up (tax deductible) cash donation that is eligible for the Public School Tax Credit program if you live in Arizona. These funds help the schools provide extras to your children in the form of field trips, after-school clubs and more. Also, you are diverting your tax payments from the crazy state of Arizona back to the place where your child spends the most time. Married couples can give up to $400 per year, single filers up to $200. I can tell you that every dollar matters, so please give whatever you can. Walk into school on the first day with your check and hand it over to the office. I promise they will remember this immediate show of good faith and support.

SHOW YOUR LOVE TO TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATION: It is very hard to hire and keep good teachers. They can go to another state (or city in AZ) and earn much better salaries and benefits. Teachers who choose to teach in Arizona are incredibly special humans. It is not easy for them, especially in Flagstaff. (housing costs, anyone?).  Make them feel your love.  Bring in an extra cup of coffee, a flower from the garden, a handwritten note, or send an email (please be sure to cc the principal) giving kudos. This will truly make someone’s day and honestly having a positive relationship with those who care for your children is a very good thing. Also parents you know I love you (I’m an NPA parent) but sometimes you can be truly cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. We still love you, but consider counting to ten before storming the castle some days!  

VOLUNTEER: Every school has opportunities. Join the PTO or another committee. Ask your child’s teacher or an administrator what they need!  When the sign-up sheets come around, be sure to add your name somewhere.  Pick one small thing. It truly matters. You will receive the added benefit of getting to know the school faculty and staff, the culture of the school, the students, and parents.  Also, participate in the fundraisers in some way (see above). Either join the event committee, donate a raffle prize, attend the event, sell the Butter Braid, etc… this is important.  Find a way to help.

DONATION OF GOODS: Schools always need copy paper, paper towels, Ticonderoga #2 pencils, boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, sharpies, and so much more. Trade credit at Bookman’s is also a very great thing to donate. I guarantee you, if you ask the school secretary “what is one thing I could bring every month that would help out” they can provide you with some ideas. This helps the school spend less money on overhead, and honestly, what’s an extra pack of tissues thrown in your shopping cart?

There are so very many ways you can contribute to your child’s school.  Oh and guess what? Don’t have children?  YOU CAN STILL HELP WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE! Help save the human race and planet earth.

The importance of improving our educational system cannot be understated. It is imperative that we provide our children with the academic tools they will need to solve the problems they are being handed. In addition to teaching them the basics, we also need to instill in them both creative and analytical thinking, the ability to resolve conflict peacefully, respect and empathy towards others, and the values of citizenship and social justice. Think of what we are asking of our schools.  It’s a lot.  How will you help?