Tales From Old Teachers

Capital Research Center’s Phil Brand has an interesting look at educationinamerica.org about what it was like to go back to the small town school he left as a young lad when his family left for greener pastures. Reading it gave me pause and made me ponder the unusual way that having “small town” in your personal history has a strange way of sticking with you in your psyche. He also raises the questions most people reflect on after they have left: What is it like to return, and what would my future have been like (for better or worse) had I stayed there? He also does a great job of raising the concepts of positive peering, and the manner in which it has a role in shaping educational outcomes and performance. Read an excerpt below:

I attended RCS in seventh and eighth grade before my family moved to New Hampshire.

I hadn’t been back to the school since, but as soon as I walked through the door my old science teacher, Fred Zimmerman, greeted me. When I was a student I thought he was an older teacher, but today he seemed younger than when I had last seen him a dozen years ago! We talked about the rockets and cars I had built in his class. On the wall he had a chart of all the members of the school science team going back twenty years. Sure enough, there was my name: bronze medal, regional egg-drop competition. It’s cliché to say, but in a small school everyone really does know your name.

And they remember you after you’ve left. When I walked passed the guidance office, the counselor beckoned me in. “I know you,” she said. “I was sad to see you leave. Yours was a rough class, and you could have been a good influence.” The smaller the school, the larger the influence a couple of people can have in it. When calculating test percentages, a few students can really swing the average.