When I say that “we couldn’t have done it without ya,” I truly mean that our public school would not have opened and made it through this year successfully without the support of the CLUSA Mason community. You have inquired about us. You have encouraged us. You have sent articles to us. You have trained us. You have visited us. You have brainstormed solutions for us. You have even written a curriculum that we love to follow!
I send out a big THANK YOU for making Gillingham what we are.
My “thanks” is not enough, though. Please keep reading to hear the “thanks” you deserve from the people of Gillingham:
When asked how he liked working at Gillingham, our music teacher, paused and then said, “I’d live in a cardboard box if I had to in order to teach at this school.” Why? While in college, Mr. K as the students refer to him, was looking for something different. He didn’t like what he saw in the schools as a student teacher or as a substitute teacher, so he says that he couldn’t be happier teaching at Gillingham.
One of our elementary teachers once said to me, “Thank you for letting me do what I love to do…teach.”
A mom who teaches math at Gillingham wrote a letter of support for a grant and concluded it this way: “I have seen an amazing transformation since [my child] entered Gillingham. She has many friends. She does not have the stress or competition of grades and homework. She has grown in her love of learning and love of her community. To say that I am pleased and grateful is a huge understatement!”
Another parent contacted a local politician. “I told them of the bullying that went on at [a local school] not only by the students, but the teachers as well. I told his office that once my son was enrolled in Gillingham he got his confidence back and was no longer stressed when he came home from school…I praised the teachers and staff of Gillingham for having a no bullying policy that was dealt with swiftly.”
When speaking to our secretary, one parent said, “Having seen what Gillingham has done in the life of my son, how can I not enroll his little brother into the kindergarten?”
A mom of a 1st grader with Asperger’s sent the following, “I’m so happy she’s had the chance to attend the Charter School. Most days I don’t even know where to start when people ask me about the school and our experience. I’ve seen her flourish and take on so much in 1 single year. For example, 1 month prior, she would barely want to pick up a book because she’s frustrated and just doesn’t get it (aka learning sight words to read) and now she’s asking me to buy her books about 100 pages long without pictures in them. Watching her expressions as she reads is priceless. I’m probably getting an education I never had too because of what she shares with me. My parents, who were very “iffy” on the entire school change, are fully supportive. Something wonderful is going on here.”
One day a seventh grader told me that his mom can’t believe his improvement in reading. He laughed and said that his dad finds it funny that he can’t find him anymore at night because he is now upstairs reading.
After attending Gillingham for a month or two, a fifth grader, told his teacher that he wanted to compare GCS to traditional schooling. She smiled and said, “Write it over the weekend and let me read it.” She didn’t know if he’d do it or not. Well, he did. Here’s just a small part of what he wrote: “I suffer from an anxiety disorder, since attending Gillingham Charter School my anxiety has really decreased. I feel they take more time with us and get to know us a not only as students but people… As for in a traditional school we learn but I don’t think we actually remember the information as we should have. We can recite back what was done but yet not truly understand it. As in Gillingham we understand what we learn… I am so grateful that my parents cared enough to allow me to attend Gillingham Charter School, where students are people and not just a number in a class.”
To the 7/8 grade teachers, a parent simply said, “I’ve got my son back.” When passing through the hallway, that son simply said to a teacher, “This school saved me.”
Did you know that you helped to save this boy? By writing blogs, by developing and sharing lists of books, by earning degrees, by giving a talk at the conference, by writing grants, by starting all kinds of schools, by digging and researching, by meeting with others to read and talk, by answering a novice educator’s question, by visiting schools and each other’s support groups, by reading Mason’s works, by teaching your own children/students in this method in home, private, cottage and public schools, you have made a huge difference in the lives of people here in the small city of Pottsville and all over the big wide world!
A mom is grateful. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for letting my son enjoy going to school again.”
For his sake. For the children’s sake.
© Nicolle Hutchinson 2012