Saturday, May 18, 2024

LETTER: Appreciation and a bit of hindsight

| April 8, 2024 2:22 PM

Dear editor,

Over the 53 years of living in Moses Lake, we have had kids and grandchildren attend the schools. If I’ve calculated right — from September 1970 through June of 2024 — they have attended 153 years of school in total. Make that nine months a year, which equals 1,377 months. This includes my four children and ten grandchildren. 

I must admit, during a lot of those months I thought what a cushy job teaching was. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until basically 4 p.m., with weekends off, plus holidays, etc. Sounds pretty good, huh? 

Now the old adage, you are never too old to learn. At 82 years of age, I have learned this to be oh-so-true. My daughter, Jill Hotchkiss, is a fifth-grade teacher at Garden Heights Elementary School. A couple years ago, I went through the process of becoming a volunteer in her classroom. I also had the pleasure of meeting all her “Hotchkiss Heroes!” Basically, I staple papers, grade spelling and other things. Help in any way I can, as 27 kids can be a handful. 

I’m not there all the time, but I’ve been there enough to learn. Learn how hard the teachers and staff work. Forget teaching being considered a cushy job. Mrs. Hotchkiss is lucky to be home before 6 p.m. As I’m sure that goes for others, preparing lessons, grading papers and all. Plus, a lot to be done at home too. 

Dealing with 27 different personalities, attitudes, work ethics and all the rest, teachers have to be so patient and understanding. Goes with the territory. 

I’ve learned that a fifth-grade teacher’s job is to prepare her/his students for middle school. Having them at a certain level in all subjects is necessary. Being organized. Being diligent in doing homework and turning it in on time. That seems to be the most difficult. My suggestion is to have a certain spot by the front door to have (students) return stuff. 

To the families of next year’s “new” middle school student: 

Your student will be going from one classroom and basically one teacher to maybe six teachers and six different classrooms. Those six teachers could possibly have more than 100 students to keep tabs on. So, keep a close eye on their doing a good job with their homework and turning it in. Got a question? Contact the teacher. 

One thing I’ve really noticed is attendance. Being legitimately sick — or having a family emergency –— is certainly a reason to miss school. But, I know sometimes you, as a parent, have your doubts. Let me tell you a little story. Over 70 years ago, I will admit I was pretending I was sick and not wanting to go to school. When I thought school had started, I was headed for the couch and TV in the front room. 

“Oh no. You are too sick to go to school, so you’ll go back to bed. No books. No radio. Just lay in bed in the dark and get better.” 

I could just eat and use the bathroom. That was it. 

I learned my mom was much smarter than me. Oh, I only missed school when I was really sick. If you think about doing what my “smart mom” did, don’t forget the cell phone, laptop and all — along with books and radio. 

If I had one wish, it would be that each parent or guardian would be invisible for a day. During that day, they would be beside their student the whole time, actually seeing what is going on with them. It might be a great surprise. Kids are just beginning to learn what they can do and not do. The classroom would be the best. 

I would also urge that if someone is going above and beyond in their job — police, firefighter, EMT or teacher — write their supervisor and let them know. It goes in their permanent file.

Yours truly,

Joan M. Green: AKA Grandma Green