I am writing this on a snowy Friday night after attending “A Mid-Winter Night” family party at the school I work at. That in itself might not be so strange, but let me tell you a little bit about my school. The school is approximately 70% Hispanic, 62% low income, and 33% LEP. We have a variety of issues in our school, both good and bad, and…oh yeah – our school has been labeled by the state of Illinois as “failing”.
So, now lets flash back to what I saw in this “failing school” tonight at the family party at my middle school. Yes, I said family party and middle school in the same sentence. Tonight, after a long week of work (and last night’s conferences) I joined approximately 15 teachers and administrators who volunteered their time to be part of this party. I walked into a room full of music in English and Spanish. I saw carnival games led by “peer leaders”, a diverse group of students who volunteered to work at the party on a Friday night. I watched parents who spoke different languages dance together next to their teenage children. We danced to YMCA and the Macarena. We ate pizza, tacos and nachos. I saw a “Special Education” student stand on stage and act as DJ after setting up the AV equipment. I saw PTO moms and dads working together to make a fun night. It was an inspiring, uplifting night. And, as the night ended, staff, students and parents waved goodbye while teachers called their reminder to students to students about the Saturday AM enrichment program.
Does our school have issues we need to address? Yes. Are we a failure? Absolutely not.