This parent of a 2nd Grader, and graduating 5th Grader thanks the entire school
By Andrew Harris, picture provided
The Wellsville Elementary School is wrapping up another year of what could be the hardest work in the world: Organizing, teaching, feeding, and caring for hundreds of children ranging in age from pre-K to fifth grade. As a stay-at-home parent of two children in that school I have plenty of first hand experience to write this column.
Let’s start with the beginning of the day, a chaotic time that requires running a tight ship to do well. At Wellsville Elementary, arrival has been the same every single day: The same system, operated by the same diligent staffers, works really well everyday. Busses, staff, parents, grandparents, and students all flowing into a school at the same time without a hiccup is impressive, moreso when it happens day after day. The Principal and Vice Principal who produce this morning ritual are almost always standing out in front of the school greeting children and ready to help if needed. They let kids out of their cars, greeting with a “good morning,” and a smile to start the day. This is a huge deal, an accomplishment for this school, Monday through Friday.
While my kids are at school, I really don’t need to wonder what they are doing. Their teachers not only provide the normal “take home” information but they communicate with parents constantly. On a typical day I get a reminder text message well before school which is a big help. Teachers make sure every kid is ready for the events of the day by just sending this kind of message at 630am:
“Hey don’t forget to send in your permission slips that are due today!! And don’t forget tomorrow is pajama day!”
This level of communication saves parents time and helps students be ready to face the day. Wellsville Elementary has a clear grasp on technology and utilizes it with effectiveness.
School safety is a burning worry on the minds of all parents, grandparents, and family members. Again, this elementary school is out in front, literally. Most of the time, but never predictably, Wellsville Police Sergeant Chad Green, at about six foot five, is standing out in front of the school. As the School Resource Officer, the precense is a natural deterrant to not just the potential of school violence, but general mischief. To watch this police officer in action it is clear that a formidable stature clearly is not what Officer Green relies on to keep the school safe. He’s a superhero to the students, a waiting line for high fives or fist bumps is commonplace, and the lines of communication are wide open. That level of trust is essential for school safety, and for redefining how kids view law enforcement in the future.
The end of the school day at Wellsville Elementary is much like the beginning: Structured, reliable, and very organized. Teachers and staff who are assigned to dismissal duty carry out the operation like a well practiced team. They all carry radios to communicate as they calmly move kids out of the building via busses or parents. Special education staff help students to awaiting vehicles, teachers and administrators work together to make every day a safe and secure exit. Officer Green is also on hand most of the time, positioned with a good vantage point and ready act if needed. The recipe that Wellsville Elementary uses to dismiss students for the day works very well, day after day.
All this process, precense, and protocol is great but I suspect that the real key ingredient is a positive attitude. Now in the last week of school, this has clearly been the secret sauce to this level of success. The energy around this school is very positive. I see this in the staff and other parents via smiles. These non-verbal flashes speak volumes and tell both kids and adults that they can worry less and enjoy more. What a essential part of education to have a child greeted by a happy person in the morning to start the day. Maybe more important is how that impacts the staff of the school: They seem very happy and supported and I have never once noted that these aides, teachers, administrators appear unhappy or stressed out. Of course sometimes they are not having a great day, but you’d never know it. This is professional behavior, they understand the impact they have on the students, and as a whole this school beams with positivity.
Last but not least: It is clear that these kids love this school. The teachers obviously work hard at creating a place that is inclusive and beneficial. Kids, like adults, respond positively to situations which present a clear benefit. My kids run in to school like they are running for an ice cream stand or a birthday party. When they get out of school it takes a half hour to hear about all the stuff the did in class that day, and the teachers are the centerpiece of the stories. They have special relationships with their teachers and classmates, they intrinsically know that Wellsville Elementary is benefiting them, even if they don’t understand how lasting that benefit will be.
Thank you for indulging in my ode to Wellsville Elementary School. If you have a student in the school, take a little time to personally thank a teacher or aide that made a difference. These folks are not in this for the money, trust me. This labor of love seeks to make a positive impact on the next generation, and Wellsville Elementary is doing just that.