Notes from Ed

“A Very Special Staff”

 Each year when prospective Merriam parents come to visit our school during kindergarten tours, I (along with one of our PTO Board members) sit down with them for about an hour to answer their questions and to share the things that I think are special and unique about our school.  In every one of those meetings I feel inspired to talk about the talented, dedicated, and compassionate staff at Merriam School.

I often start by describing the tremendous commitment that staff members at Merriam make to our school.  Prospective parents usually marvel at the fact that we have over 20 committees at Merriam that meet on a regular or semi-regular basis.  These committees – which plan major academic or community events, look at curriculum issues, or provide professional development – almost always take place before or after school.  Whenever I ask for volunteers for a committee, I always get them.  We may have 10-15 teachers planning Theme Day, or another large group planning the schedule for the following year.   Looping teachers in grades 1-6 make a huge commitment by learning two years of curriculum – and gladly do so – because they realize the huge benefits of this educational structure.

 I always want prospective parents to understand how our staff is woven into the fabric of our community.  You’ll see Merriam staff at the Fall Fair, the Staff vs. PTO Bball  Game, Literacy Night, International Night, and many other community events.  They build a sense of community within the classroom, and then continue those efforts at all-school meeting and then throughout the entire school community.

 I also share how Merriam staff are collaborative, creative, and innovative.  Teachers on a given grade level collaborate about curriculum at least several hours per week.  Special educators and classroom teachers consult with one another regularly.  Specialists (in art, music, phys. Ed., computer lab, library, and the nurse’s office) work closely with the children and the rest of the staff.  Teachers are continually developing and refining projects, using their skills to develop new and exciting ways to engage their students.

In those tour discussions I always speak about how our office staff, assistants, custodians, and food services staff are all integral parts of our amazing community.  Kathleen, Jayanthi, and Cathy are a wonderful office team – graciously answering questions and assisting folks – sometimes under a great deal of pressure.  Our assistants- both regular and special ed. – are invaluable members of our staff who support the children and the teachers in countless ways.  “An assistant in every classroom” is an amazing gift – funded in large part by our PTO.   John and the custodial crew keep our large facility in tremendous shape and are so responsive to requests – and Amy and Cheryl bring healthy meals to our children.

 Parents come up to me after these meetings and express surprise and appreciation that I have so many great things to say about the people I work with at our school.  I guess I’m surprised that they’re surprised.  It’s the way things have been here at Merriam for quite some time.

 I deeply appreciate all the contributions of every staff member in our community.    I can’t thank them enough for all that they do for your children.  But I can certainly do my best to try…

~  Ed