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School Crossing

By Guy Nahmiach

As I sat and ate my delicious meal at a local restaurant here in Wheat Ridge, I overheard a great conversation happening at the table next to me., a young boy out to dinner with his grandparents. They asked him, “What was one thing they should know about him?” Clearly he was excited about the topic and started chatting and laughing, he wanted to cover all grounds.

They then asked him to describe himself in three words. Well, that pushed him over the edge and he protested about being restricted to only three words. It was refreshing to hear so much energy from just a conversation. How many parents out there are pushing their kids with conversations that don’t revolve around the Broncos or Pokemon or ridiculous TV shows. How many parents are spending a meal’s time to listen and really understand what their children are about? The answer is simple … not enough.

Parent involvement is the biggest factor in how successful a school is and the outcome of a student’s experience in the world of education. I am not suggesting that every parent out there join the PTA and be in charge of some event at their school. But if you look at the successful schools in our city, it’s easy to point out why they are successful and what they are doing well to continue to attract families from all districts including those outside our city borders.

We were all excited to hear that schools scheduled to close down at the end of the year had been given an indefinite opportunity to stay open and work on increasing enrollment. Pennington in particular was championed by PTA Vice President Leah Dozeman, who called neighbors and knocked on doors to rally the community to keep this last-standing school in District 4 open. With more active parents around our neighborhood schools, students will grow academically and emotionally inside our classrooms and in their homes.

Cautiously excited is the Manning School community. With a new principal at the helm, families have been asked for what they would like to see in the future. This a school that traditionally has not been open to suggestions. While academic standards and results have been sky high, the concern was always the “boot camp” environment that surrounded the staff and students. How do you maintain the excellent results without squashing your child’s thirst for knowledge and hunger for a challenge? Read Jeena Williams’ (new principal at Manning) article in this issue of the Neighborhood Gazette. I am so excited about the future of Manning. In fact, find out for yourself at Manning’s Open House on Oct. 25, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

With the Wheat Ridge area middle schools taking on the sixth grade next year – instead of the short two years in which students and parents kept their heads down and hoped for the best – it becomes a three-year commitment where the middle schools will have to up their game and really prepare students for high school. A long-term vision will be important. Which program and what high school will your student set their sights on, and which middle school do you feel will best prepare them for that journey?

In the same breath, I bring up my concern that while we are so focused on getting our students college and career ready, what standards do we hold our elementary and middle schools to in truly preparing grade after grade full of aspiring students for high school? We don’t hold kids back anymore. We hope that they will “catch up” at some point. So when Johnny becomes a freshmen reading only at fifth grade level, who do we point to? More importantly, how do avoid this situation in the first place?

Finally on a more personal note, this is my first week after dropping off my oldest at the University of Toronto. While my heart feels like it’s been ripped apart, I take great comfort for the amazing work each school has done in getting this student ready for the next four years. Make sure you spend the time with yours. Get to know who they are and what makes them tick. What do they want you to know about them?

As always, thanks for reading.

Contact Guy Nahmiach at 303-999-5789 or Guy@NostalgicHomes.Com.