Did you move away from your home town after high school? Chase a dream that took you to places away from home? I did… I come from a very small town in upstate New York, Morristown. Morristown is located on the St. Lawrence River. It was a town of one main drag and no stop lights! I spent my high school years growing up there. For me, the small town atmosphere was good to grow up, but it was lacking. When I went off to college and got to see other places, I pretty much decided that the outside world needs exploring.
I feel, my life is pretty much made for a movie (with the exception of being rich and famous). I came from that very small town, Morristown, NY. Off to military school and received my commission as a 2LT. Continued my education and found my soul mate. Got married and helped raise two wonderful adults now. Worked hard to provide for my family and retired. I am in the middle of my second career of helping to make a difference with non-profits, volunteering and just helping out others. Not bad for a documentary on living the American dream. When you thing back to what helped shape your dreams, I go back to my high school days. Maybe it was my teachers, coaches or just the fact that I was old enough to really think critically about stuff.
Thanks to social media and the internet it is so much easier to get back in touch with those days. Facebook has helped me connect with those “good old days” and the people that I grew up with. We have a Morristown group on Facebook, where we really share our experiences. Some of those folks are still there and raising their families there. Thanks to them, we get to hear about what all is happening with the school. This all got me thinking, “what is happening with my old high school?” Some are asking how do we save our old high school?
I think everyone would like things to stay the same forever. Change is difficult. I have read that the school is in trouble and the students are not getting the same experiences that we had when we were there. Since, I don’t return and visit to see with my own eyes what is happening, I get to look at it a bit differently. Maybe the high school part is in trouble. When I graduated, I think my class size was 19. Really small school and town to have a high school. Cost effectiveness and offering the best possible education and experiences may not be happening. I read issues about the high school not being able to offer sports in a Morristown High only fashion. Losing out on prom or a senior class trip. I remember all of those activities with fond and not so fond memories. I for one, would hope that the students would be able to experience those as well. Maybe not the same way as back in the old days, but at least get an opportunity.
When I take out my emotional baggage and think about what could be done… It clear to most that the overall direction of the school and it’s future is missing. Leadership is critical to making changes that will have a huge impact on the community, the students and the staff. Right now, I bet it is lacking big time. Is it the individual school that needs to step up? How about the NYS education department? I would answer – yes in all cases. It is time for a radical change in how rural schools are handled. The days of having your own community school are pretty much hard to sustain. Time for some real forward thinking. How best to serve the communities and students without breaking the bank. The most important aspect of the future is making sure that the students are getting the necessary education and experiences for their success. Setting them up to drive toward their dreams. Giving them the experiences to help shape their path. Nothing else matters…
You can pull up statistics and see that New York as a well is rated third in the US for public education. I bet if you were to ask the rural communities if they feel they are getting the third best education in the US – they would beg to differ. Small towns all over the US are facing this problem. Time for the little guy to make a lot of noise! It all starts with students, parents, alumni, community leaders and the schools administration. Make the noise, put some proposals together with all of the minds that are around you. Stand up! Write up! Tweet up!
The one thing I can I feel strongly about is, “those good old days are gone. Time for a new and better future.” I want to help!