It Takes a Supportive Community to Educate a Child

schoolbuses300wWhen I was newly married, I drove a school bus for Frederick County Public Schools to help make ends meet. Each morning, I woke at 5:00 a.m. to drive to the Hayward Road bus lot. I took my bus down Yellow Springs Road to the Bethel Road area collecting and delivering students to Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, Monocacy Middle School, and Yellow Springs Elementary School.

After my route ended, I parked my bus to attend courses so that I could become a teacher. Once class was dismissed, I got back in the bus and did it all over again to bring my students home.

fcps297wAfter getting a classroom of my own, I grew to rely upon a trusted custodial staff who taught me the ins-and-outs of our building. I learned a lot from them and was sure to help out by keeping my room clean to make their work less hectic and more efficient. In turn, they helped me keep my plants alive over long breaks! I also learned about my school’s deep history and legends from the custodians. They were sure to give me plenty of sage advice early in my teaching career, too.

I got to know each of the food-service workers. They taught me a lot about building meaningful relationships among staff members. The Special Education Instructional Assistants helped me learn how to best work with special needs students. They gave me valuable advice on classroom management strategies and helped me fine-tune a positive working relationship with my students who had behavioral difficulties and emotional issues. The secretaries helped me keep track of the important grades, reports, and deadlines that I was sure to lose track of without their professionalism. They knew every student in the building and helped me understand the challenges some of my students faced.

I could not have done my job successfully without the guidance and support of everyone in the building.

FASSE297wI never forgot about the important work that our dedicated Employee Support Personnel workers in Frederick County do in our schools every day. They are bus drivers who get up before sunrise to safely transport children to school. They are food service workers who nourish and nurture our students. They are Special Education Instructional Assistants who happily work with children with special needs each hour of the day.

Schools are a community and our school system is a larger collection of these unique communities. Each school has its own personality, needs, strengths, and challenges. This sense of community is derived from our valued students and those that support them—bus drivers, custodians, food-service workers, maintenance staff, IT professionals, aides, administrators, and teachers—that make our schools successful.

Presently, I am still in the classroom as a faculty member of Frederick Community College. As a part of the committee that helped FCC look for a new president, my colleagues and I met with a consulting firm that aided us in our search. Our committee was asked, “What is the one thing about FCC that is so special you never want to see it go away?” I was the first to respond by relating that our FCC community must never go away. Nothing in our supportive community is outsourced or privatized.

FCC297wWe are all employees of FCC. We are bookstore personnel, security, food-services, housekeeping, maintenance staff, IT professionals, publications, and duplicating services. Everyone who works here is an FCC employee and is a vital part of this community. That is why we have such a beautiful, well-maintained campus. That is why morale is high. That is why we lead the state in many measures. And, that is why we are collectively invested in making our college great.

This sense of community and personal investment by everyone is also what makes FCPS special. Everyone at FCPS is committed to student success.

FCTA297wThe teachers of Frederick County Teachers Association, the support staff of Frederick Association of School Support Employees, and the administrators of Frederick County Administrative and Supervisory Association are all essential components of our exceptional and outstanding school community.

At first sight, outsourcing or sub-contracting jobs and careers may look like an expedient way to cut the budget. That is a remarkably shortsighted approach. Privatizing the jobs of our Education Support Personnel workers will erode our school community and lessen the quality of services.

As a member of the Board of Education, I will actively fight to protect and strengthen our school community and the people who build them.