Are my poor little ones having to deal with the wet weather again?
O.K. get ready. I am going to step on toes, or better said, cleats this morning. Once again, I lie here in the early morning hours wondering about the little ones that were my responsibility for so many years. The kids at my elementary school (remember, I have been retired for a couple of months) have not had an awning to walk under when they go to their cars in the afternoon since we rerouted traffic for pickup.
A little background for the record. When I arrived as administrator of the school, one of the things I was asked to upgrade was the pick up procedure. At that time, students still left the old-fashioned way – the bell rang, all students ran out the door. Cars were parked everywhere waiting for their students, or kids walked home, or they loaded on busses. There was no way to know if a student walked, got on a bus, or was picked up by the parent. Our school was situated on a main road through a small town, but it was just a two lane black top without sidewalks or any shoulders on the road to walk on, and kids being kids weren’t paying much attention to anything other than “Woo Hoo, school is out for another day!!” It really was a disaster waiting to happen.
As we began implementing the new pick up plan, (you probably know the general procedure) busses in one location with lines and supervision, walkers in another with someone to walk them across the major streets, and car riders in a location where parents could have a drive through to just come by, and we loaded the kids. They didn’t even have to get out; we made the McDonald’s drive-through look inept.
After all that background, now to the gist of my irritation. The car riders, which makes up the majority of the students (probably equal to the bus riders) have always had to go out the side door without an awning, which means in rain, sleet, snow, or shine (wait, isn’t that the postman?) they have to go out to their car, with a teacher holding their hand, to be loaded for their ride home. Now, this sounds like a silly complaint. What does a short little trip to the car in the weather hurt anyone? It doesn’t, and I would agree if it were an equal opportunity weather experience by all, but once again it is not. For one thing, we have the only classroom for severe and profound students. That means that the most vulnerable students – those with the inability to walk and move in a normal manner are also having to walk out in the weather, only it takes about twice as long to get to their cars. Here we go again; we were the only elementary school without awnings. For over two years, we had been told it would just be a short time until we got the awnings. The construction department came to measure several times. (I quit counting I got so disgusted.) Even the school board president came and looked (with the superintendent) at where the awnings would go. Then, the board president came and told us that we would be getting awnings shortly. Of course, by that time we had learned to “believe it when we see it.”
Now, that might be enough of a gripe for some, but not for me. All during this three-year period of awning deprivation, a new field house, weight room, stadium, and high school was completed. That, in addition to awnings at every other school. My students that needed these awnings the most were the only ones without. Now, I am mad, and everything that was built or bought for any other school warranted a smart remark like, “Of course, our little special ed kids have to make their way in any kind of weather.” Then, it became one of those situation that if you didn’t laugh you would have to cry. When reports came back to me of the field house that put the Dallas Cowboy field house to shame (for a team that had been three years with maybe one win), I began to tell anyone that tried to share what were really achievements to the district, “Just don’t tell me. You know it gets me going. All I want is awnings for my special needs kids.”
One day, I was as I working on a presentation, I was lamenting the fact that I did not have a color copier. By that time we were “so sophisticated” that we could send our documents to our new copy machines. Just as a joke I decided to see if there were any color copiers in the district. (I just happen to be knowledgeable enough to look at the selection for the entire district for printers and copiers.) As I scrolled down the list, I saw the one thing that was the most devastating information ever. There, right in front of my eyes, on my cheap company computer, on the list of copiers, was the “War Room Color Copier.” “What is this?” I ask myself. My assistant happened to be in my office during this search, and I could tell by his face that he had just found the ammunition to get me really stirred up. You know, that look that is referred to as a “s**t-eaten grin” on his face. We had worked together long enough that I could spot it instantly. “You don’t know what the War Room is do you?” he slowly asked. I did not. And as he explained to me just exactly what that was – the conference room in the field house, that is in addition to the weight room, the media room, the coaches’ offices, and the head coach’s private office (with bathroom).
I can only shake my head today as the sleet comes down and wonder if those poor, little kids have to walk out in the weather to get to their cars. But hey, we can have color copies of plays that don’t work, for teams that don’t win. Boy, does our culture puzzle me.