The School that Saved Me

5 Dec

I’ve always been the type of person who likes to stay busy. I complain about it, of course, but really it’s all of my own choosing. Apparently, Child #1 has inherited that trait of mine. Through my school district’s Community Education program, my kiddo has basically done it all. Swimming, gymnastics, t-ball, basketball, cooking, science, Lego engineering. He’s jumped from one activity to the next, always excited about trying something new. His newest class? Karate.

One of the exciting things about Community Ed. programs is that they take us to schools in my district that I never would have set foot in if not for the class we were there to attend. As a teacher, poking around other schools is something that I love doing. Karate class, however, took me to more than just another elementary school. It took me on a trip down memory lane.

When I talk about the elementary school I attended as a child, I talk about Desmond Charles Elementary.* But, in reality, Desmond Charles only accounts for half of my elementary education. Before I went to DCE, I attended a private, Catholic, elementary school. In kindergarten I didn’t mind it, but at the age when school was mostly play, what wasn’t to like? As I got a little older, my Catholic elementary school became repressive. I felt like I wasn’t able to have a personality. Or really, I wasn’t able to have my personality. There are some who may have thrived in the rigidity of the rules and regulations. Not me. I had always loved learning, but I became less and less excited about school. While I was still young at the time, I remember my unease about going to school vividly. When I was at school, I felt like I was a shadow of my real self, only visible in the right light. I began to try to get out of school, crying to my parents that I didn’t want to go back. I am beyond blessed that they listened.

Desmond Charles Elementary saved my life. That may sound melodramatic, but I know it to be true. At DCE I had teachers who provided me with opportunities to be goofy. They encouraged and helped me to be creative. To write. To read. To sing. I found a home at DCE, and in that home, I found myself.

When I walked through the doors of DCE to take Child #1 to karate, I felt just as at home as I did the day I had left. The ceilings felt lower. The media center, massive in my memory, felt smaller. The desks most definitely felt shorter. What hadn’t changed a bit was the ease I felt as I walked the halls. To an outsider, they’d be nothing special. Just elementary hallways with plain walls masked by student artwork. To me, they were a reminder of the power of great teachers, and parents who truly hear their children when they speak.

There has been much talk in some circles of how public schools are failing our children. In some cases, that may be true, but it was public school that saved me. I won’t soon forget it.

*Desmond Charles Elementary is not the actual name of my elementary school. It has been changed here for privacy.

+DISCLAIMER: I am sure there are many, many people who have had fabulous experiences with Catholic and other kinds of private schools. I am just not one of those people.

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One Response to “The School that Saved Me”

  1. Kay Froemming December 5, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    I hope you will give a copy of this to the principal of the school so it can be shared with the staff. What a nice tribute!

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