The people we love most in education share a strangely bittersweet feeling at the beginning of a new school year. The excitement is real; it’s in their bones — they love school and students and can’t wait to get back into their classrooms or cubbies so they can get to work, using what they’ve learned over the summer to create rich environments in which all of their students might thrive.
But the shorter, cooler fall days also remind them of the very real challenges that Tacoma students, teachers and staff will face, barriers, hurdles, mountains that make it almost impossible for many students to learn, much less blossom.
Students in class on the first day of school may be hungry, homeless, sick, scared, bored or confused. There may be things in their lives so terrifying that they cannot talk about them, even to a trusted adult. There may be a new team of administrators trying something new to raise the test scores of a struggling school. There may be teachers discouraged by a standardized curriculum that leaves little room for creativity, experimentation and wonder. There will likely be so many students with so many special needs in one classroom that one teacher simply cannot reach them all. We wonder how in the world our educational system became so complicated and disjointed and crazy. We wonder about it all of the time.
Write@253 is honored to partner with so many Tacoma teachers, administrators and community partners who know that education ought to be better, who love all of Tacoma’s children, who refuse to blame students, teachers or schools for the difficulties we all face and who, instead, look upward to imagine what a rich and transformative education, one based on creativity, literacy and love for all Tacoma students, would look like.
This year, write@253 volunteers will work with students at Jason Lee, Giaudrone and First Creek Middle Schools, McCarver Elementary, the Salishan housing development and our Hilltop writing center. We’ll lead poetry, book and film clubs and student newspapers. We’ll continue to support a unique in-school writing center, assist high school seniors writing personal essays for their college applications, help kids with their homework, and offer writing and art workshops during the evenings and weekends.
As our good friend Fahren Johnson of the YMCA says, our stake is in the ground, and we’re ready to get to work.