Four days before Valentines Day, I witnessed a wonderful example of community, learning and joy all rolled up into one heart-warming event. I had the joy of watching my child and her teammates compete in a color guard competition with other local high school teams. The competition took place in a packed auditorium of kids, teachers, and families and was an absolute pleasure to watch…so full of life and creativity. The high school teams, made up of kids from many backgrounds, all beautifully demonstrated what they had put their heart and souls into and worked hard together to develop. Their “end product” was a culmination of sweat, tears, creativity, knowledge, a few bruises, and individual expression that showed their families and community what they had created and learned together. It was a really great scene to watch unfold and it reminded me of why I love public education. I love the learning, the community, the contributions of the children, parents, and educators -everything that goes into passing the baton of knowledge and bringing up our next generation of citizens.
Witnessing that community event made me realize how important it is to give our kids a well-rounded education. My daughter has blossomed through her participation in the arts. My 14 year old son has turned into a passionate lover of all things sports and weight training, and is now taking more interest in health and nutrition. My oldest daughter loves that she can express herself through technology, photography and art. All of these interests were sparked at school where they have had many learning opportunities to choose from when signing up for classes and after-school activities and clubs. Their interests have spilled over into their learning of other subjects like, Language Arts, Science and History, where their teachers often give them opportunities to complete projects using their own talents, rather than just typing up a typical research paper. I am thankful that the public education system where we live offers kids so many opportunities to learn. Without the opportunity to develop and use one’s talents, I know that my kids would have a more limited view of their world and not be exposed to a variety of activities (that I could not offer them without the help of public schools) in which to experiment, grow, and learn.
In the auditorium at the color guard competition, students had created and displayed numerous huge pink and and white hearts, in honor of Valentine’s Day, that showed their “love” and support of their teams. During intermission, we witnessed a little 4 year-old go out onto the floor by himself, holding a mini-flag, and attempt to copy what he saw the color guard teams do with their various spins, jumps and tumbling. The crowd went wild when they saw that little guy express himself and pretend he was a color guard, just like the big kids were. He waved his flag, did many somersaults, and spun around and around. The audience was captivated to see such an innocent little one, unaware of people watching him, so full of expression and joy. He had learned something and he couldn’t wait to try it out. After several minutes of copying the big kids, he decided he would return back to the bleachers where his parents were sitting. The audience roared with delight and clapped their hands in appreciation. I just sat there teary-eyed, yet thankful that we had witnessed what education often does – brings people together in unity to transfer and discover knowledge, nurture and hold up our children, and create a joy for learning and community.
On this Valentines Day, I wish to express my love for public education and the communities that are brought together through its purpose. American public schools are a central part of many communities and an “epicenter” where dreams, ideas and aspirations incubate and develop. As a parent and a public school teacher, I am glad to be a part of the process, and I hold our public schools in high regard…a national treasure to be protected and supported by all.