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Writings on Motherhood, Judaism, and Happily-Ever-Afters

Why I Love Flagg Street Elementary School

I like the thought of homeschooling and will probably end up exploring it more seriously as the kids get older. But Flagg Street Elementary School, where both of my older two attend, and my youngest will start in 2015, is home for us right now and I couldn’t be happier.

Jessica Mary is entering fifth grade in September, and very much looking forward to it. She had a great year. It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, but she learned and grew and thrived. Fourth grade, for her, was about so much more than geography and long division and open response MCAS questions. This was the year that she really learned about friendships, about how they form, how they fall apart, and how they can reform so fast. She learned about standing up for herself, how to speak up when she needed to, and how to let things slide when that was the better choice. This was a good year.

My boy – my boy had a more complicated year. Mostly, what Sam needed to do was grow in confidence. He needed to learn that the world was safe without having me or his dad there. He needed to learn to trust and to relax in a setting that was new and sometimes very scary for him. And without Sue Gravel, his kindergarten teacher, I can’t imagine how he would have done it. She was endlessly patient with him, gently, firmly, compassionate and always, always on his side.

As a parent – I rarely know what I’m doing. Especially as they get older, I’m just guessing most of the time. Should I be more involved in homework, less involved in what’s going on during the day? Should I be shielding them more, protecting and interceding, or standing back, letting them fend for themselves and learn independence? I don’t know the answers, other than to be pretty certain that there are no right ones. At least, not answers that don’t change according to the child, the time, the situation. There are no constants, no absolutes and no easy answers.

What I do know is that I always, always felt like the staff and administration at Flagg Street School was on the same side I was. They wanted my kids to grow and thrive and succeed. And they had the experience and dedication to make sure it happened. Sue Gravel was an absolute lifesaver, over and over again. I’m thrilled he’s moving onto first grade, I’m proud and humbled that this little boy, the one they had to pry off of me, kicking and screaming, to get him to go to kindergarten in the first place, happily answers that he’s “excited and a tiny bit nervous” about going to first grade in the fall.

I sometimes question the theory that it takes a village to raise a child. Mostly, I think it takes dedicated parents. But if it does take a village, I’m awfully glad that my village includes teachers that go above and beyond teaching to really get to know a child, to know when he’s ready to be pushed, and when he needs a hug or some extra reassurance. I’m grateful that my village includes the teachers, staff and administration of Flagg Street School. And, I can’t stress this enough – Sue Gravel is absolutely amazing, and I’ll never forget her impact on my son.

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