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More Advantages of a Small School

Updated on October 11, 2014

It's My Family

Every school has its own personality based on the people in school. When one person moves it changes the dynamics of the entire school. Elementary students seem to recover from the loss of these friendships more quickly than secondary students. Some parents claim that small schools have more drama. That may be true, however in smaller schools students and faculty are treated more like family. The saying families are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts rings true in a small district.

I once watched an assistant principal playfully slapped a boy on the head. As he did the assistant principal said, "he may be a knucklehead but he's my knucklehead." The high school boy literally beamed. He was not at all insulted by that assistant principals playful slap or words. No matter whether the behavior is good or bad small schools accept the students as they are

Advantages of Small Schools Recapped

In the article Advantages of Small Schools, we looked at the resources of each district. Financial resources were not a factor in the conclusion. The resources were more intangible like time, effort, and energy. Neither the previous article nor this one is intended to shine a negative light on large schools. As stated in the first article, there is no right or wrong, just different.

In the first article, the resource pie was divided into eight segments: test scores, academics, attendance, graduation, parent, student, staff, and community. We explored how the school diverted the resources to serve one segment more than another. The conclusion was that larger schools tend to spend their resources on things that affect the scores on the report. Smaller schools tend to focus more on the people. That means the community, parents, and children.

This article will focus on specific events and experiences that led to the conclusion. Most information will be firsthand while others are secondhand reports.

Comfort is a Valuable Commodity

Comfort from a teammate can make everything better.
Comfort from a teammate can make everything better. | Source

Why Write This Now?

This has been on my agenda to write for a couple of weeks. Yesterday, I read a plea from a mother asking parents to teach their children not to make fun of deformed children like her son. He was born with a rare genetics disease. My heart went out to both of them. Knowing he will live a lifetime with rude remarks left me sad. My mother's heart broke knowing that she was powerless to protect her child.

Last week I watched a talk show focused on a 13-year-old girl who took her own life because she was bullied at school. The parents had reported it, but nothing was done. One day, this precious child who had barely begun her life ended it. After her death, students continued to make fun of her method of suicide.

These two incidents spurred me to write this as soon as possible. I have seen bullying in a small school many times. I have also seen how the students took care of it. We lost approximately ten students to death during my career. Thankfully, none of these students took their own life. However, their deaths affected our entire student body. It didn't matter whether they were close friends or not. They were family.

Jennifer Bricker

Losing a Friend

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Take Me Home

Katie was a small girl born with a birth defect which caused her facial muscles to be frozen. She was unable to smile, close her mouth completely, or move her mouth completely to form words correctly. She was an extremely intelligent child and very articulate--if you could understand what she was saying.

Katie started school in our small school district at the age of three. She received intensive speech and occupational therapy. She was small for her age and the students adored her. 'Princess' Katie was pampered by students and staff alike.

During Katie's kindergarten year, her mother earned her college degree and teaching certificate. The following year her mother was offered a job in a neighboring school district. That school district allowed their teachers to bring their own children to the school. It was much easier for Katie's mother to take her to the district where she was employed.

During the spring semester, Katie walked into her mother's room and said, "Take me back to my school." Her mother asked why. Katie replied, "They don't make fun of me there." Katie was returned to her home district.

The mother changed jobs and tried taking Katie with her several other times. Katie was never happy unless she was at her home school with her family who didn't make fun of her.

Each Individual is Important


Caring for Students

One morning we were experiencing one of the worst rain storms we had ever had. There was almost no way to stay dry. By the time you opened your umbrella, you were soaked. The principal of our elementary school stood on the sidewalk and motioned parents to drive up to her. The sidewalk was covered, but there were no gutters so water poured off the roof. That principal stood with an umbrella, opened each car door, and held the umbrella over each child as they exited the car. Meanwhile, the water pouring from the roof was going right down her back.

After 15 minutes of opening car doors, she was drenched. When one of the staff playfully reprimanded her about it, she replied, "I can go home and change clothes. The students can't."

When my son was in kindergarten, we had another rain storm. He attended a small school, in a neighboring district close to where I taught. The rain water was soon up past the first step on the buses. Every administrator from the administration office went to the elementary school and with pants of dress suits rolled up, physically carried every elementary student to the appropriate bus.

Caring for Staff

When a hurricane destroyed my home, the superintendent of the district offered me a bedroom in her house for as long as I needed it. I didn't accept because I was staying with family. I did ask and received permission to use the washer and dryer in the life-skills classroom. That helped with laundry.

When another staff member was needed by his mother's hospital bed, the staff formed teams and prepared dinner for the family every night for a month. It gave both parents time to spend with their small children when they weren't watching the critically ill grandmother.

What's the Difference

Large school districts have their advantages and this is not meant to say they don't care about their people. It is just different when you go to school, church, little league, and shop with the same people every day. You get to know them as well as most people know their families. When you know someone personally, the achievements are more celebrated and the hurts are more grieved. As you sit at the funeral and watch the pain in your classmate's eyes, you know that you'll be sitting beside him in class tomorrow. Things take on a different perspective when it gets that close to home.

What is the advantage of small schools? Learning that you are a valuable individual and knowing that any dream you have will be supported by the entire school. Those are pretty important lessons.


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