Peacham Public Supports School

To the Editor:

Taylor Reed's suggestion that Peacham School may be teetering on the brink of extinction is perhaps a bit dramatic. I'd like to assure CR readers that we in Peacham are not surrounding the school, pitchforks in hand, wailing and gnashing our teeth. We're there a lot, for certain, but we usually just assemble wreaths for the PTA, help the kids weed the garden, read books with the kindergartners, and cheer competitors in the Geography Bee.

The 38 petitioners in favor of closing Peacham School are valuable, dedicated, influential members of the community, but they don't represent all of us. Not even close. Thus, I'd like to speak on behalf of the many Peacham residents and members of the Peacham School community who support our children by supporting our school. We're excited and inspired by Peacham's faculty: new, veteran, and in-between. We appreciate the ceaseless dedication of our principal, who can be reached at home if parents (or students) need him. We commend the experienced leadership of our upper grades teacher, the enthusiasm and flexibility of our middle-grades teacher, and the extraordinary devotion and ingenuity of our new K1 teacher. We're thrilled by the joint curriculum of the French and music teachers, who have Peacham students (and staff) singing songs in French; by our tech coordinator and librarian for making the whole world accessible to our children;, by our art teacher for spearheading a grant-winning collaboration among students and community artists; and by our literacy coach who accompanied Peacham students to last year's spelling bee (where they took 2nd place).

We're grateful to the kitchen staff for involving our children in the preparation of healthy foods, and for the PTA and the Phys. Ed. teacher, who will take all the kids skiing at Burke this winter at no charge to the parents. We are thankful for the bus driver and administrative staff, who know not only all of the children by name, but their parents, siblings, and caregivers as well. Furthermore, we are proud of the many parents and community members who, when faced with the prospect of difficulties at school, aim to get all hands on deck and fix the problems, not shutter the doors and ship our kids to someone else.

Believe it or not, we are also grateful for our neighbors who doubt the school's efficacy. The dialogue generated by their concerns has forced us to re-examine our finances, clarify our mission, and renew our dedication. In the past year, community members have met in the library and the church basement, in the school lunchroom and each other's living rooms, at the farmers market and the town hall. We've brainstormed budget strategies, administrative costs, and curricula. We've shared our frustrations with the school, but also our triumphs in the school, and our hopes for the school. We've identified, through hard work, focused discourse, and professional mediation, a singular community vision for the Peacham School. True, we are not in unanimous agreement, but informed dissent is part of healthy dialogue, and in this community, the dialogue is thriving. Our community is very much invested in the future of our school, and that's a good thing. To keep it that way, we aim to keep our school in our community.

Erin Narey

Barnet, Vt.

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