I could see them through the glass-paned door, all sitting in a semi-circle. As quietly as possible, we opened the door and sidled into the classroom. Not surprisingly, all the little faces of the pre-school children, as well as the cast of adults positioned among and before them, turned to face us. I felt my face form into a bright smile and heard my voice say, “Good morning everyone! We’re just here to visit.”
Making my way to the back of the room, I watched as the teacher held up vividly colored flashcards. “Let’s begin,” she instructed, sitting up on her knees. Suddenly the room burst into unison voices, reciting the letter A, its short vowel sound, and the word ‘apple.’ I glanced over at my assistant superintendent who had accompanied me into the room and greeted her smile with my own.
Earlier in the day, she and I had visited the middle school across town from my own. There, we had witnessed adolescent writers composing research-based argument writing on such topics as gay marriage, gun control, and the utility of bells in schools. In that classroom, the teacher had patiently explained to us that these writers were working on a third argument piece. I thought to myself how helpful that will be for the students, as repetition is how we learn.
Now sitting quietly observing a pre-K lesson, my assistant superintendent silently gestured to me that it was time to move on. Our next stop would be a few kindergarten classrooms, followed by some time in upper grades. Each room we visited left me awe-struck at the levels of organization, care, and skill the teachers brought to the mission of educating each group of young children.
Following our elementary walk, we traveled a few miles to our local high school. There we were warmly met in the lobby by the school’s Humanities Department Chair, who gracefully led us through nine different English and social studies classrooms. At one point, my assistant super leaned over to me to whisper, “See that boy in the front row? I’ve known him since he was in pre-school.” Silently, I marveled at the breadth of the journey each of these students had traveled thus far; from learning what sounds a letter makes, to now presenting on the effects of globalization on the nation of Nigeria. Amazing.
As I drove home that day, I felt so privileged, so privileged to have witnessed a slice of the twelve plus year educational journey kids take on in their lives. I found it truly fascinating!