I am feeling awash in sentimentality on my youngest son’s last day of school after eight wonderful years at West Side Elementary in Marietta. The academic environment is absolutely stellar, but it’s the sense of community, and the soft place to land that my boys and Mark and I were afforded all these years that really makes it shine.
To all of these cherished teachers, administrators, and staff: Thank you. My children have learned and grown so much under your care; and I have learned and grown so much through your patience and dedication, and your tough love, and your willingness to fight the good fight. You made me a better parent.
To all of the wonderful, amazing, brilliant friends I have made there: Thank you. I look forward to knowing and loving all of you for the rest of our school years and beyond. You made me a better person. And to all of you young parents coming in: Lean in. Grab hold. Get involved. This is a school that wants to know you, and this is a place that WILL know your child.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out, but do trust them, and try with every fiber of your being to embrace the lessons they will teach you as a parent. You may not click with every teacher, or every parent, but you will likely learn the most from the ones who challenge you.
Don’t just look for the easy way, and don’t forget to say thank you, not only to the ones who make you feel perfect, but also to the ones who push you kicking and screaming out of your comfort zone. Say yes whenever humanly possible, and jump in with both feet. Even if you are simply standing and cheering while someone else grabs the ball and runs with it.
Eat the school lunch. Pat the janitor on the back. Show your PTA some love. Join a committee. Show up for schoolyard spruce up days. The connections you make over these years will make it so very hard to leave this bubble, and you will leave wanting more, but you will come out of it with the people who will help you get through the next stage, and so grateful to the ones who helped build your foundation.
Stingers to Blue Devils and beyond! I love you, West Side! Thank you.
Smith James Group, Inc.