Beyond the Surface
I have this really cool app on my phone which helps me remember things I need to do. I fill it up with important things like necessary errands and trivial long-term projects like hooking up a newer DVD player to our television set.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The good thing is that when you fail to complete a task, it merely pushes that item to the next day so you see it every time you open up the thing. I’m taking this day off from work to complete a few of those, including one which has lingered for a couple of months – blog about JA Biztown.
Biztown is a program run by Junior Achievement in York which helps middle school students learn about the many facets which help a community succeed. At Hanover Middle School, sixth-graders take part in this project. I clearly remember my daughter’s experience. That’s why i was honored when a member of the sixth-grade team contacted me to ask if I would help them this year.
Students have to apply and interview for the jobs they want, ranging from DJ to CEO of certain businesses and even members of the media horde. Teachers ask a few members of the community to help with the interview process. I was honored to get that call this year.
Anyone who knows me understands my passion for HPSD. I’ll certainly call it out for its flaws, but I really get fired up when people try to paint the district with e broad negative brush. It’s easy to cast aspersions for selfish reasons. I don’t think the people who choose to do so could handle the experience I had interviewing 10 sixth-graders in late September.
I could not believe the poise and maturity these kids showed in such a tough situation. The teachers make sure they know they have to take this very seriously, but they also encourage us to make the students as comfortable as possible. I tried to do so, relating stories of my daughter’s experience or something funny that has happened to me in my professional career. I thought I had succeeded, but didn’t really know for sure.
Then the letters showed up in the mail.
Part of the process included sending the interviewer a thank you note, like any good job prospect should. The teachers sent the whole batch for the students I interviewed to my house. I’m not afraid to admit that I teared up while reading them. The stories of how they felt comfortable talking to me and realized that they just needed to let their personality show really hit me hard.
These were’t form letters either. Sure, they had been given instructions on some things (mention the job they interviewed for and the date of their trip to Biztown and a few other little things), but the variety in how the students described the experience showed that they really put thought into what they wanted to say. They truly appreciated a parent taking time off from their job to help them with a project.
This is why I get mad when people jump on the “Ugh, Hanover schools suck” bandwagon because they seem to take a look at one test score without any context or one incident without any details and immediately turn everyone into a villain. When we examine schools, we need to remember that these are kids and teachers and life lessons that mean much more than numbers. Step away from your selfish perspective before you criticize.
The sixth-grade team has a special place in my heart for many reasons, and this just adds to that feeling. I hope I can come back and do this again and encourage everyone to get involved in as many ways as possible to see beyond the surface and make a difference.