I am fortunate and blessed to work in a school that dates back to 1952, and two of my favorite school days are grandparents' days (speaking of, K-2 lunch is Sept 12; 3-5 is on Sept. 13--letters/order forms went home to families last week) because so many generations attended school here. "Can I walk down and see my old classroom?" I always say yes, by the way! Being a bit of a nostalgic person, I catch myself reflecting on my surroundings... getting misty-eyed over the history and tradition, the power of community, and the deep, deep roots that exist in this fabulous little school. Roots that are strong and deep enough to not only hold us up, but to actually bind us together! Roots that share common values and morals, but varying degrees of experiences and viewpoints, all of which make our school one of a kind! So, how does all of that sappiness--pun absolutely intended, trees are sappy!--influence us today? This year, Mrs. Kelley and I spent quite a bit of time talking with Ms. Gin and Ms. Dale about our school's past (you see, when renovations take place to the extent that they did this summer, you start to reminisce about the Old Place) and came to the conclusion that our school's deep roots are one of the most direct contributors to our tradition of success. And along came a theme... Robert E. Lee Elementary... Rooted in Success...
Teachers, parents, administrators... every stakeholder who works with or supports a student at RE Lee is a Master Gardener. OUR kids are the evidence of OUR collective work to support them! They are the end product, the flowers, fruits and healthy leaves on deeply rooted trees and bushes, each one different from the others but still from the same main trunk. They are the result of tireless hours of gardening efforts from ALL OF YOU!
- You are the master gardeners who determine what our flowers, fruits and leaves should look like (unpacking the curriculum).
- You are the master gardeners who design the daily regimen of food, water, sunlight and soil that our little saplings need to grow the way we intend... of course, this is all research and evidence-based, no guess work here! (designing and delivering Tier I instruction).
- You are the master gardeners who measure your plants’ growth along the way and prune out the suckers that often detract from the plant’s successful development and adjust their daily intake of water, food and sunlight (assessment and progress monitoring).
- When one of our samplings fails to thrive, perhaps as a result of too little or too much fertilizer, food, or water, or perhaps because of some invasive disease, you are the master gardeners who diagnose and treat the ailment with scientific precision (Tier II & III interventions, RtI).
- You are the master gardeners who take the nearly mature plants to show when the time is right, to show the exquisite growth, sometimes at record levels like a prize winning pumpkin or blue-ribbon sunflower (data celebrations).
- And of course, you are the master gardeners who collect the rewards from the judges at the fair who are there to evaluate your prize winning plants, fruits and flowers, and yes, sometimes the judging criteria is unclear or changes just before the competition, but once again this past year, you are the master gardeners who smile with pride as you see the accolades bestowed upon those winning plants, fruits, flowers, and trees (state assessment time!)
Tomorrow, we will begin to sow our next crop of prize-winning students! One thing to keep in mind is that, like all gardens, our plants are annuals. They start over each season. Even though the seeds and saplings may come from the prize-winning plant the season before, there is no guarantee that our plants this year will thrive under the same conditions. We have to get to know our plants, we have to adjust our conditions to suit them best, and we have to make sure that we are working together to accomplish greatness again this year. Gardening is hard. It's easier with a team of folks all working together for the same purpose. I'm just glad I am a gardener at RE Lee where we are truly Rooted in Success!!
Yours in Learning,
Daryl Lann, principal