Home > Art, Good Stuff, Life, Politics > Still here….

Still here….

Lest it seem that I have fallen off the planet due to the lack of iron in my blood discouraging the magnetic pull of Earth’s gravity, I am checking in to report that I am alive and well, even as I struggle through the harsh Florida winter…. 😀

I have discovered an interesting phenomenon during the past month while I’ve been feverishly at work painting a series of murals at a local elementary school. The brain — MY brain, anyway — seems unable to devote itself to painting and to writing simultaneously. My usual ability to babble on about almost anything has been snuffed by the need to see the world in images.

Perhaps the reason is that as I reflect on these images, not just the ones I’ve painted but those I’ve experienced spending time in the company of grade schoolers in a disadvantaged community, language seems inadequate to describe the level of devotion I’ve witnessed on the part of an extraordinary group of teachers.

This school is experimenting with an incentive program that rewards its teachers monetarily for the successful test scores of their students. A couple of years ago this school was failing miserably but since a new regime of administrators took over and made major changes in personnel, the grades of the students have improved by almost 100%.

As I’ve stood on my ladder day after day listening to the activities going on below, I’ve learned with certainty that it is not the financial reward that drives these teachers — they’d do the job anyway. There is a harshness to their tone that I don’t remember from my early days at a small rural school, and I bristle as they threaten to “call your grandmother and have her come in and sit right next to you while you do your work”, yet I realize that anything less leaves these kids foundering in a world that will easily throw them back out into the path of a cruel cycle of fate. The strict structure of the school may be the only way these children learn to grasp the fact that only education will save them from continuing in a culture plagued by poverty and jail time.

If I’ve gained anything from this experience it is the renewed recognition of the crucial role our public schools play in readying new generations for an ever-changing world. Without the dedication of the teachers who guide them and the financial support that allows them to do so, we simply continue to churn out a population that lacks the tools to contribute and raise their communities higher.

For those who doubt the efficacy of our public school system, I invite you to join me in my role of “fly on the wall” so that you may witness a devotion and stamina most of us will never develop. I urge you to quit complaining about where your tax dollars are going and get in there and see for yourselves…

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Categories: Art, Good Stuff, Life, Politics
  1. February 28, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Great piece Ellen. I watched my son getting on the public school bus the other day and I choked up a bit, and thought, “Is there anything better in this country of ours than watching children boarding a public school bus?”, good education so being vital to our citizens, to our country…

    I think you’ll find the bouncing back-and-forth, from words to painting, from painting to words -giving an ebb and flow to your life…a nice balance and both creative outlets – glad you share both. You’re amazing. Blessings this day…

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