Recently, I was asked, “What makes East Central so special?”
Having been part of EC as a high school student at its inception, then teaching my entire 32 year career in Sabula, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to attempt to answer this question.
And while I am anxious to tell anyone and everyone why EC is special, it’s more of a “feeling” than something that I can necessarily express in words.
Certainly I could go on and on about particular curriculum highlights, qualifications of our teachers, the hows and whys of test scores, but that’s not what this paper is about. It’s about "family."
Just walking the halls of each building one can get a sense of the teachers, staff, and students who have made EC their second home.
There is a keen sense of “family” here. Even though each elementary teacher is assigned a particular group of students each year, we teachers feel that all the students are part of our family.
We care about what each student accomplishes, whether they are in our classroom or not. Students know that any teacher here is ready and willing to help them with anything from classwork to problems that life may be handing them with which they need assistance. We find the right resources to match their particular difficulty.
I can’t tell you how many times staff from the AEA (psychologists, speech pathologists, etc.) have told me that they love coming to work at East Central. They often mention that the atmosphere at EC is unique.
Students feel loved here. They feel safe here. They know they have the opportunity to shine.
While we expect students to learn and use the pillars of Character Counts (respect, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, citizenship, and responsibility), they know it goes both ways. Our teachers love our students.
Among my favorite things is when former students come back to visit. While that may not seem unique, it is far more unusual for it to occur in an elementary school than a high school setting, and we DO have many, many students come back to visit. They know we care.
With the possibility of East Central not existing any more, I have had a great number of former students contact me wanting to make certain I knew how they felt about EC.
I recently had an online conversation with a student who was in my classroom back in the 1980s. I think her words still ring true for many of East Central students:
“I often felt like such a burden. Somewhere along the line (well... the last 15 years anyhow) I figured out a few of things. One: I actually like to absorb information and love to learn. Two: EC (and the staff there) made me aware of just what I am capable of. Three: I realize now my home life may have been a bit tumultuous... and EC was really my rock.”
Another thing that we can be very proud of at East Central is our integration of technology. While we don’t have shiny new buildings, the infrastructure that we are most proud of is the number of available computers and networking that we have for students.
Our school leaders have always made technology a high priority, no matter the financial difficulties we faced. They wanted our students to be prepared for 21st Century Skills and the world of work. Having tools like Skype to actually visit other classrooms without leaving ours, Promethean boards, and the ability to utilize the most up-to-date, accurate information on the Internet at a moment’s notice allows us to provide experiences for our students that others envy.
Because I am fighting hard for East Central to stay open, I have been accused of many things. Let me tell you from the heart, that I just plain old love East Central, its students, its staff,….its uniqueness. It’s too special to lose.
Brenda McKone is a National Board Certified Teacher. She teaches sixth grade at East Central.
Recently, I was asked, “What makes East Central so special?”
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