I’m a Viking

I’m a Viking all the way, but that doesn’t make it right.

I love my students at a ridiculous level. I go to their recitals, concerts, football games, softball, baseball, especially basketball games. I love competition and I love seeing my kids succeed. It’s not real complicated.img_2368

Today, my kids won the regional MathCounts competition. That may not seem like a big deal, but here’s what you may not know. There has been a dynasty team for as long as I have been working with the math team. (Ten + years). I’ll have to study the trophy inscriptions after my co-coach gets done taking pictures with the trophy to see how long before my time the dynasty goes back. The dynasty team my kids bested has Mathclub as an elective course. They have parent volunteers that run the club because the teachers don’t have time or interest. They have homework They are also a magnet school for the gifted. Seriously. Our mainstream public school kids meet once a week on Fridays for 45 or 55 minutes with my co-coach and me. Our serious kids also meet with former students of ours that are now juniors in high school once a week for an hour. Our kids are just having fun doing math. Who couldn’t love that? It really is fun.

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Tired of my bragging? Here’s my real point. The reputation of our school is grounded in the academic success if the institution. That affects the real-estate prices in this area. It affects how our teachers and principals are viewed across the county. It just does. I love that my principal showed up this year as well as the last couple years. That’s easy to do with successful programs, even on Saturdays, but still greatly appreciated. Where they were the 8 years prior is anybody’s’ guess. (Different principals; different times. Glad they’re behind me.) It should be noted, I didn’t see any other principals at the competition. EVER.

We sponsor clubs like math club for the kids. Perhaps we do it for the school. Do we do it for the money? No. We don’t get a cent. In fact, to sponsor a club costs us money. We do something for kids and we are away from our families and it costs us money to sponsor a club. Last year we asked the parent organization to help with the expenses for our modest breakfast celebration at the end of the season. They told us to solicit donations from the local grocery store first. Seriously? They want me to spend time begging free goods from a local business rather than preparing for their kids’ classes? We just did it ourselves. This year, after a couple years of bringing this to their attention (mind you this has been going on for well over ten years) they are offering up some token amount. I don’t recall what it is. Bad on me. I’m complaining today after the competition and my husband says, “perhaps my employer could foot the bill for your awards banquet.” I told him I could foot the bill. For that matter, any parent of a member of the club that I asked would foot the bill. That’s not the point. We build the academic reputation of the school and thereby help real-estate values in the area. Someone other than me, my co-coach or club parents or my husband should foot the bill. If it’s truly valued by the school and community, this shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation. It should just be taken care of.

If it were just the math club, I could probably sit quietly (though not my style) and soldier on. BUT. We have a quiz bowl team that has gone to nationals the past 3 years. (May not qualify this year as it is a rebuilding year). The sponsor(s) pay their own way. Atlanta. Dallas. Where ever. Competitions are always on Saturdays and last the entire day. One of our school’s Odyssey of the Mind teams went to nationals in Iowa last year. They had to do a fundraiser and then still paid much on their own.

I absolutely know these programs and more like them are defining for our school and district. I know they make a difference in our students’ lives. I also know that they raise real-estate values in the area. So, why do teachers have to do this with their own money and not be compensated for their time? Is it that time is worthless or merely priceless? Is it that you know our hearts and souls will never let these kids down? Because WE WON’T. We suck it up and do and do and do. We love our kids and we love what we do. (Noted and appreciated that the school pays the entry fees.)

Our thanks come when our kids return from the high school to see us. Two years ago three high schoolers ran into my room after a competition to tell me about their success in a regional math competition They didn’t run to their high school teachers. They ran to me. A parent sponsored/coached them. No high school teacher gave up the time for free. Middle school teachers just suck it up. For the kids.

I suppose all this processing has really helped me see that real-estate agents ought to be sponsoring our school like crazy!!! Dang.

It took me long enough to figure that one out. Thanks for listening.

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