Last month I officially jumped ships from teaching in a private Christian school to teaching in the Los Angeles Public School District. I do not recommend doing this for many reasons but now like the old saying, hind sight is 20/20.
LA County School District is the 2nd largest district in the country. I am working in a small district within the LA district. I have to say I was shell shocked for the first week, but after each week things begin to smooth out. I am teaching Technology I and Technology II classes at a middle school. The population of this middle school for grades 6-8 is around 620 of which 67% is free and reduced lunches.
Kids are kids! They are much the same, no matter where they are from, honestly. There are some differences between the physical schools I have taught in. My new school has a 12 foot security fence surrounding the entire campus with only one way in and out which is through the main office. All classroom doors open to the outside and automatically lock when closed. The only time the gates are open is before school and after school for about 15 minutes. There have been some shootings near by, so during lunch breaks and other passing time, students are asked to not talk with anyone approaching the fence from the outside.
While writing this, it suddenly hit me that although this sounds frightening it's not. I feel safer at this new school than I did at the previous private school. That of course has to do with the administration. They are top notch! They are extremely on top of their game. Every call, every email is met with instant action and support.
Another difference in this new school for me is the programs offered to the students. Everything from after school programs called homework helper, where many tutors are bought in to offer free tutoring for students to programs and activities for enrichment all for the grand price of $8 per week, per student.
Since middle school'ers love competition, the school has ongoing programs that kids can compete in for Friday field trips. Nearly every Friday, they load up the winners; take them to Disney, Knots Berry Farms, 6 Flags, the movie theater, Getty Museum, fishing on the coast and many others trips. They love these opportunities to be recognized.
The staff is large but very supportive and caring of each other. This past week the staff and students were evaluated by the California Department of Education on site. The evaluation was to determine if this middle school was a California Distinguished Blue Ribbon School. And after a long tough day of observations and interviews it was determined to be just that. Long before I came onboard, this staff has worked many hours with the students and other staff to be the best they could be. I just happened to walk in at the 12th hour, how lucky can a person be? Or I should say blessed?
Despite all the woes California has right now with the budget crisis the pink slips going out to over 8000 teachers in LA County alone, lots of really super things are happening here. I just hope it can continue under such dire economic conditions. It will take a miracle I feel sure.