Author: Dana Elmore, Director of Blended Learning, G/T Coordinator, and Instructional Coach, Roscoe Collegiate ISD
A few weeks ago, my husband announced his resignation from his job as a high school principal, effective at the end of the year. He is making a career change and is planning to get completely out of public K-12 education. Since then, many people have asked me if I am leaving education, as well. Here are a few of the reasons why I am NOT done with public education quite yet.
First of all, I am a product of public education. I was raised mostly by my single mother (who never obtained a college degree), although I also lived several years with my grandparents. My high school, which currently has 72% minority students and 94% economically disadvantaged, has similar demographics to what it had when I was there. I had a few risk factors for not being successful in school, but I learned and grew and was successful in school. I was successful because of the teachers that gave of their time and their hearts, even though they worked hard for low pay and couldn’t fix the system. Part of my desire to work in public education is to use my passion and gifts to pay it forward.
I owned a private school for 6 years. I loved being at the helm and setting the direction to give the students a school that agreed completely with my philosophy of education. We provided a student-centered, hands-on Montessori education; had second/third language instruction for all ages (toddler-6th grade); served healthy, mostly organic meals and snacks; spent a great deal of time outdoors (skiing, building forts in the woods, playing, and doing classwork); embraced music and art (even bringing in instructors for private piano lessons); and had opportunities for chapel and Bible study. Although it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I loved being able to provide the best possible education for my students.
When my husband was transferred and we moved, I sold the school. I considered opening another but decided to go back to public school. Although we offered scholarships and tried to keep it as affordable as possible, the balance of paying my teachers a decent wage vs keeping tuition affordable did not help me to make all mean ALL. It just meant all the students who were in my school could get this education. Although I can’t provide that kind of education for all students in the public school setting, I came to Roscoe because it is a public school that “puts its money where its mouth is.” We at Roscoe are doing our best to make sure that all means ALL. From a public Montessori to the opportunity to earn industry-based certifications to tuition-free college, Roscoe is really providing great opportunities for ALL of its students. It still isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but I feel like we are doing some pretty good things.
Moving the public education system is like trying to turn a battleship. Although I don’t think we are moving in exactly the right direction (I’d love to see more outside time, healthy snacks, passion projects, languages, and love of learning), this Roscoe ship is turning away from the same old, same old that is just barrelling down the waterway.