The Influence of an Elementary School

How are you influencing your students?
Class Picture
The William Tennent Class of 1983
Thanksgiving weekend usually brings together high school class reunions.  I was privileged to be able to attend our 30th class reunion, the William Tennent Class of 1983.  (Yes, I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s and yes, I’m dating myself.)  It’s interesting to graduate from a large suburban high school, because half of the people in the room, I did not know or remember.  I was walking around collecting donations for the class scholarship, introducing myself, “Hi, I’m Vicki.  Who are you?  I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”  Sometimes folks would say, “Yes, Vicki, I remember you.”  Oh, oops, sorry for that.  This is what happens when you move away for 30 years.
Although this was a high school reunion, what was very poignant and noticeable to me was our Stackpole Elementary School connections.  A group of us gathered around, reminiscing about our elementary school, our teachers, the Pocono trip we did in 6th grade, and the joy of being an elementary student in a wonderful school setting.  Maybe it was because they tore the building down to consolidate and we are mourning the loss of that building, but there were definitely conversations and laughter remembering the impressions and influences of our teachers and adults from elementary school.  And yes, of course our principal Mr. Hodge.  I was terrified of him, I think we all were.  These were all positive impressions, memories of caring adults, fun times, and a nurturing environment.
It was funny to me that I really did not engage much in a conversation about high school.  Maybe it was because of the closing of our elementary school that we brought the memories back from Stackpole.  The things I remember from high school are of course my music endeavors and that we had a smoking alley.  What was that about?  Things just do not resonate with me about high school, the friendships do, but not the influences of adults other than my music teachers.  Maybe it is because this was the time for all of us to start finding our way in life and wondering what we are going to do after high school.
It was great to reconnect with everyone that night, although barely a quarter of our classmates showed.  (We are a class of over 800.)  As an elementary principal and educator, the takeaway for me that evening was the connections and conversations about an elementary school and the memories we shared.  This is how I would want our elementary students from the East Side to remember us and our school 30 years later.  It’s not only about academics, but the influence and the relationships we set and model for our kids. What will be your legacy?
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