Recently, small signs started popping up in Windham, the town that abuts the property where I live. The signs state: “Our Kids Need Opportunities.” Those placing and displaying the signs think that closing the local two-room elementary school and busing K-6 kids 10 to 15 miles to consolidated schools paves the road in opportunity.
As a teacher, I know that education provides knowledge and awareness of the world order. But education per se does not create opportunity.
As a former volunteer at Windham Elementary School, I know what is exceptional about this school: its students learn self-expression via reading and writing from the day they enroll. Self-expression is a pathway to a lifelong love of learning – of all subjects. This is exactly what an elementary school is supposed to accomplish.
So what actually creates opportunity? A community of caring, sharing folks. That’s what creates community.
Remember when you were a kid? You wanted to get out of the house and hang with your friends. To do what, your parents might ask. Play basketball or go to the library. Or head over to the neighbor’s house to work on a carpentry project, or to learn how to use a sewing machine. It is people who create opportunity for others. Once you’ve received an opportunity, you want to provide opportunity for others as well.
If I could vote in Windham, I’d vote “No” to closing the school and busing kids down the mountain. If the school closes, the community called Windham disappears. So let’s collaborate to provide our kids with opportunity.
West Townshend, Vt.