It Takes a Village

April 5, 2018

Guest Contributor: Paola Balsa, Parent Class of 2021 and 2024

It seems that in every family there’s one of each; the introvert, the talker, the party-goer, the party-pooper, the organized, planner and calculator and the hot mess, spur-of-the-moment, follow-your-gut type of person. I am lucky enough to have known a lot of types. I love them all and when it comes to communication skills, I think my kids are your basic opposites; the introvert and the talker. From these skills, I thought I had a good idea of what their school was like. I at least knew with certainty that they were happy, from comments, attitudes and overall moods around the house after picking them up. A very good sign has always been to see them excited to go back to school after a break. So, I always felt good about the choice we made when it came to picking a school for them. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to immerse myself more deeply into everyday school life, that I got to fully comprehend and appreciate it even more. I was the Spanish teacher sub for two weeks, while the amazing Señora Hochmuth took a well-deserved break in Chile for two weeks with her family. I substituted Spanish in every grade, from pre-school through fifth grade. Sounds exhausting right? It is. And here is a little bit of my experience during those two weeks.

Prior to my arrival as the official “sub” I kept getting reassurance from all the teachers that I would do great and they kept offering their help. That was awesome, because let’s face it: I knew I was going to need it eventually. I have brief teaching experience from when I lived in Mexico where I was ironically the English teacher for a couple of years. And so, this made me feel so much better before even starting my Spanish teaching feats.

I finally started my two weeks as the Spanish sub and I have to say that the behavior in every grade is one of respect towards their teachers, and the relationship between peers and the teachers themselves is awesome. There were a few occasions when the kiddos needed extra support and they got it in a heartbeat. And in the most sincere, thoughtful and caring way. So, yay for that. One day I even got a compliment from a preschooler who noticed that I was wearing my hair differently and she said, “you look beautiful today”. I could get used to that. I also received another epic letter from a dear fifth grader thanking me for being the sub and for, in her own words, “putting up with them”. Another thing I could get used to. One dreaded day, I had lunch duty and had no idea what to expect. I was a bit late and when I arrived at the cafeteria, the middle schoolers were calmly eating their lunch with zero adult supervision. I don’t remember this ever happening in my school (don’t tell the kids). This to me was the true test. Because they were going to behave well with me as the new, exciting stranger who mostly played games with them during class. This to me is a testament of a school that has it under control. And more than that, a school were the kids are secure, happy and content enough to be left unsupervised and act as responsible, considerate young adults. For the most part. Where their needs are being met and they don’t feel the need to capture anyone’s attention by misbehaving. And where they learn by example from the awesome adults they share their days with. The best part about these little details is that they spread like wildfire, and so you really feel like going out into the world and spread good vibes all around. Good job kiddos!

On another occasion, I was stuck in a bind as my kids got sick and we had to “find a sub for the sub”. As soon as the email was sent out, there was an immediate response with people offering to help in any way. This seems to be a common thing in this community, as I now understand it and attest to it. So, another yay for that. I cannot say enough about the teachers here. I will not even try, because the blog is not intended to be that long and also, because I don’t think I would be doing them any justice. You are all amazing, and please know that I have always had the utmost respect for you. Now ever more and I thank you for helping raise well-rounded individuals who are kind, thoughtful and who have a huge sense of community and respect for their peers and authority figures. You are doing your part on this earth, and for that, I thank and commend you.

When I reflect on my short experience at ECDS I can honestly say that I am very grateful for the school. The phrase “it takes a village” takes on a whole new meaning for me, because everyone is there for everyone. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a special kind of person to help a kid who is having a rough time at math. And it takes special skills and abilities to put up with the spur-of-the-moment type of child. It also takes patience to constantly listen to the talker and to continuously try to get the attention of the distracted kid. But it also takes a special kind of group of people to do this with the love, care and compassion that I witnessed these past few weeks. And to have that same kind of care, love and patience for your colleagues in a work setting. And so, I can now rest assured, from my own personal experience, that my kids are happy at their school. That they are lucky to attend such an awesome school. And that it really takes a village to orchestrate such a wonderful, well-oiled machine as ECDS is. Grateful to be a part of this community and grateful to all the people who make it happen everyday.