Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Education Is a Tree Planted by a Village

If you are willing to envision Norwich as a human body I think you’d agree our schools are pretty close to being the heart (as well as the soul) of who see ourselves to be and whom we’d like to always be (I will concede I’ve yet to ever see a sign anywhere that says ‘Welcome to Wherever, proud of our sidewalks’). One crack about 'okay, so then who's the butt?' and I will pull this blog over young person so fast it'll make your eyes roll faster than they already are....

My wife and I no longer have children in the Norwich Public Schools system-our two are grown and adults with lives of their own. But a not inconsequential part of who they are now was shaped and formed by the teachers and administrators within the school system then.

For the thousands of parents with children in Norwich Schools now, there’s a golden opportunity to create the next then in terms of what our local schools are and how they do what they do for the next generation of children who are entering their classrooms.  But the window of opportunity is closing fast.

The expression goes ‘A society grows great when people plant trees under whose shade they shall never sit.” It wasn’t all that shady last Thursday evening in Kelly Middle School at a less-than-standing-room only School Facilities Review Project-Community Forum sponsored by LEARN, the regional education agency partners with JCJ Architecture and O&G Industries, hired by the School Facilities Review Committee to assess current Norwich schools and offer recommendations for renovations, new schools, distance learning, virtual schoolhouses and a variety of other educational innovations.

What we lacked in numbers last Thursday, I’d offer as someone who watched but didn’t participate, we compensated for in passion and ideas. And next Thursday, the 21st, again at Kelly starting at six, it’s your turn to talk about our schools and our kids because that’s what this is all about.  

There’s to be a total of five forums including one yesterday with city leaders and department heads and one today with school administrators. After next Thursday’s session with you, a final forum will conclude with the Board of Education and the City Council on February 1. There will also be an online survey for all residents posted on the Norwich Public School’s website.

Do not dare think your opinion doesn’t matter, because if you think like that, it won’t. We each have choices; that’s why we each have voices. Make sure yours is heard next Thursday evening.

We have the city and services we have today because a generation ago, people just like us said ‘these things are important enough that we will pay for all of us to always have them.’

In the passage of time and the shifting of populations and overall wealth, our schools have made due, as have we all, but now it’s time to revitalize our thinking and rededicate our energies so that when our children are adults, they can look at what we’ve done for them and carry that work forward and work as hard for their kids as we did for them.

- bill kenny 

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