The End of the School Year

When we moved to Whittier I didn't know much about our school here and I knew nothing at all about our school district.  I am pleased to say that has changed!  I had no idea what a phenomenal experience being involved with both our local school and our school district as a whole would be.  I have talked about my adventures as a school board member here a bit, but what I want to talk about today is much more personal--the experiences and opportunities my kids have had being a part of Whittier Community School.

Here are some amazing activities or experiences that the girls have had the opportunity to be a part of this year:
  • a magic show in conjunction with an art day with two other area schools
  • *truly* personalized learning--every single day!
  • setting a goal, working towards that goal, and the pride that comes with reaching that goal
  • learning about medieval times through making costumes, having a feast without silverware and acting out jousting in a safe way. 
  • a morning spent tide pooling to wrap up a unit on ocean life
  • cross-age activities
  • learning from community members
And I could go on and on!  Are these experiences unique to Whittier Community School?  As a teacher and a mother I can tell you that they are not.  Every day across this great nation millions of students go to school in thousands of incredible schools and are taught by amazing teachers.  It's not often popular to sing the praises of schools, teachers, and students in this time of slashed funding, high stakes testing and the ever-raising bar.  Somehow it has become acceptable to label schools, teachers and students as 'failures'.  Somehow, as a society, we have completely missed the point!

This is my absolute favorite quote about education:

print available here
It is so true!  Sometimes I think that when we look at the data about schools, teachers and kids we forget the human factor.  We forget how much learning takes place when we sit down and share a meal and conversation with kids.  We overlook the importance of hands-on experience.  We downplay the impact that teacher's enthusiasm has on kids and their own enthusiasm for learning.

I feel so grateful to be a part of Chugach School District and Whittier Community School.  This is an organization that really "gets it".  Every single day!  Teachers are empowered to make decisions that will benefit kids.  Teachers are trusted to choose curriculum and teaching methods that will be most effective for each kiddo.  Parents are given the opportunity to play as large a part in their child's education as they want to.  Community members are welcomed into the school to share their strengths with adults and kids alike.  Staff is always available to talk to parents and to help kids with homework.

I am fortunate to know our teachers here in Whittier and across the district on a personal level.  I know firsthand how deeply they care for kids; how far 'above and beyond' they go to help kids to succeed; how committed they are to their profession, their students, and their communities.  I have seen them cry, seen them chip in to feed a kid lunch, seen them open their homes to kids who need help with homework at 9pm, and seen them set an example of what a productive and positive member of a community looks like...and I am proud!  Words cannot express how grateful I am for the myriad learning opportunities my girls have had this year.  When I look back at who they each were in September I am so proud of how far they have come.  Sure, they have learned to read, to write, and to do math.  They have also learned independence, felt confidence, experienced success and failure, been encouraged and been reprimanded when needed. 

So thank you!  Thank you teachers of Whittier, teachers of Chugach School District, teachers of Alaska, teachers of the USA.  Thank you for getting up every morning and caring.  Thank you for working until 10pm and working on weekends.  Thank you for waking up at 3am thinking about a cool way to present a lesson and thank you for brainstorming in the shower about how to reach a particular kiddo.  Thank you for making a difference in the lives of kids, even when society, the media, the government, and often the parent of those very kids is down on you.  Thank you--because being a teacher is not what you do.  A teacher is who you are.  I am proud to know you! 


  1. Amen, Sister!!

  2. Very well said :-)

  3. Wow, are amazing and I am so glad that YOU are a part of Chugach School District!
    thank you, Shoo


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