Wednesday, November 5, 2014

To the Parents of Bus #2

I sit in the middle of Bus #2. In the middle of your sons and daughters.

It is late.

Novi Middle School is on the way to Washington DC. Tonight we travel so that tomorrow we can tour the sights and see the historical documents of our country.

The school and the school district promote the trip as being educationally relevant. It is. Eighth grade studies US History. There is a lot of US History in Washington DC.

Eventually, your sons and daughters will study Civics and some will even take an Advanced Placement class in Government and Politics.

At some point one or two of our students, perhaps your son or daughter, will decide to run for political office. They may look back on this trip to Washington DC as an inspiration. They may remember the Lincoln Memorial or the Capital Building or the King Memorial as particularly meaningful.

But for tonight, education is not the primary focus.

I have sat for three hours listening to your sons and daughters laugh and giggle, talk and whisper. They have leaned over seats and across aisles. 

There are cell phones and iPads, tablets of all shapes and sizes. 

At one point there was a student with a book right in front of me. And he was reading it. Wonderful!

We just stopped on the Ohio Turnpike. You should be glad you were not at that turnpike stop. Everyone who stepped off the bus stepped back on. One hurdle cleared.

I am not with your children every day of the school year. Instead I am a visitor, a frequent guest to the classrooms, the hallways, the lunch room at Novi Middle School.

I see your sons and daughters in places and in ways that as parents you do not. I hear them chatter. I see them run when they should walk. I see them talk when they should be quiet. I see them lean in close to share secrets. I see them open lockers that at times are remarkably organized and at other times amazingly cluttered.

I also see them think deeply, struggle to solve problems, find joy in learning. 

Tonight I have seen them navigate the bus. It is a remarkably delicate dance.

Eighth grade is a year of transition. For you as parents. For your sons and daughters as children.

Your children are beginning to recognize that there there is a life beyond school. They are beginning to recognize their passions, wonder about life beyond your house, beyond Novi.

Tonight is emblematic of their life.

They are scared and excited and hopeful.

You are scared and excited and hopeful.

But for tonight they are kids on a bus. So rest easy parents of the students on bus #2 - your sons and daughters will soon be asleep. Perhaps.

And hopefully so will I.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Matthews, I had you as a professor at U of M-Dearborn many years ago. You were, by far, my favorite and most well respected professor of my graduate program and much of my undergrad years as well.

    When I first heard you were rumored to be joining Novi Schools I was excited for the students and families of the district. My nephew (who went on this trip a year ago) and my niece (who will go in two years) are a part of Novi Schools and I am proud that they will have some of your influence over their education as you did in mine.

    When I read this I know that you are still the man of passion that instructed me so many years ago. Thank you, from an outsider, for continuing to make a difference in the lives of young people.

    Tracy Spence