****************WARNING! The following post and those to follow have a seriousness which may cause me to use emphatic language not typically seen in my writing. The topics to be covered are deeply personal to me and not intended to be the thoughts or story of anyone but myself. I am writing about these things at this point because I need to, not because I have completely managed to cope with my experience. This is part of my attempt to cope with my experience and move ahead in my life. Please be kind with criticism and know (I) am just next door, down the street, in the restaurant, at your work…meaning, my most frightening point I feel I need to make is, this could happen to anyone. This has happened to someone you know. This can unfortunately happen to you or someone you know. *************************************************************************************************
There are so many titles I have running through my mind for this post. I can’t decide on one yet. There are so many different parts to this saga I want to share but I haven’t concluded it yet so I can’t decide where to start. All the feelings and unfeelings; all the pain and numbness; all the everything and nothing I have lived through in the past 365 days are what I want to share. But, I cannot. All the warnings I want to give, the fears I want to dispell, I cannot. The encouragement and reassurance I would like to give to my friends, family and associates are not going to be written here today. I have been told “don’t walk away from this,” “don’t let them get away with this.” Don’t worry, I’m not. In July 2014, I told my supervisor “I’m not f***ing around.” He apparently didn’t tell them that. In September 2014, my husband told them, “she draws a hard line.” They didn’t know what that meant. In May 2015, they started to understand.
Remember – “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? My cover may look a little fluffy fru-fru apparently because some bodies sure didn’t know the fighter in me. Oh, what fun! My cousin Al is quoted as saying “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I’m kind to everyone. But when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.” That’s Al Capone if you didn’t know. We’re cousins in the typical Patti fashion, interesting person with strong beliefs and gusto – we must be related. Besides, did I ever tell you about the time I ran a B & B in the northwoods? Yeah, he stayed there. (Yah, no, not in the 1990s. Duh.) But, yeah, we’re related like that.
So anyway, all this rambling has got me thinking I know where to start now. I may even have a title.
I am not what I would call an “armchair detective” although my favourite reading comes from a small list of authors which includes Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and, yes, Ray Bradbury. I love a puzzle. I find I will continue with a mind exercise until I have absolutely satisfied myself of its completion. I have never been a police officer. I have never formally studied investigation techniques or strategies. But, I think on puzzles in a logically, non emotional manner. I rationalize the points I know and form theories which are reasonable in comparison of the facts. That seems logical to me, in my lay-person’s brain.
Moreover, in gathering all the facts (I have always presumed “facts” to mean hard core pieces of undeniable-unquestionable reality) one should not have too narrow a focus and seek these in a whole environment including immediate area effected, wider radius, broader spectrum, background, complete surroundings. This makes sense in my mind. If you feel you agree with my uneducated, un experienced logic, thank you. It’s been difficult to have anything but the perspective of absolute idiot as I have been gutted at the hands of trained and experienced professionals while they smear my guts into concrete with their feet. (For those non-literature types, please forgive what may be mis-construed as condescension, is called “figurative language”. Please note I do not mean to say my guts were strewn literally on my driveway. It has just felt like that has happened many times over in the course of my tale – which is definitely not one of fairies but very Grimm.)
As you read further the bits of my story in the next, oh, however long this cathartic process takes, I hope you understand at least some of the tragic truths of our age which do not include guns, murder, absolute overt bigotry and racism. On this point, I am wearing the hat of a middle aged white married female, mother of four person, me; although it is a fact that I am married to a man of African ancestry and my children are the epitome of the melting pot of America, to this point I still do not want to believe that has anything to do with what has happened to me. It is much easier for me to deal with this being a case of a woman in a man’s world, dumb-bitch-what-do-you-know kind of thing. If I find it is more than that and is about my husband and my family…ooooooh, just wait ’til you see the fight in me then!
When you run a red light, when a theft occurs in a parking lot, when you miss the toll booth, there are video cameras most everywhere which can often show exactly what happened or give vital information about what could have hapened. The first would show fact, the second would open up more for investigators to look into in order to find fact. Question to my readers, what is the first thing you would do if you were heading up an investigation into an incident like: a man says his tires were slashed while his car was parked on Main Street by the intersection near the City office building? A. Look for witnesses on foot B. Talk to area businesses about other tire slashings C. Check the video cameras
Do you remember the Robert Fulghum poem “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?” That is what Communities at Oshkosh North High School is all about. Leading students to understand the network of how communities – big or small – fit together and need to support one another is something our kindergarten teachers did almost magically. The opportunities to reinforce the key skills all people should have to live and work in an inter-dependent society in the 21st Century through a public charter high school are what the team at Communities is striving to do, almost as magically as Mrs. Campbell (my kindergarten teacher) or Mrs. Reynolds or Mrs. Van Scyoc or Mrs. Bando (my children’s kindergarten teachers).
The awe a young student has when seeing his or her kindergarten teacher play the piano while standing up directing the class and singing is the same kind of awe I have when I see and hear what the teachers with Communities have put together in classroom teaching, business mentors, community advocacy, and on and on. The enthusiasm and sparkle in the eyes of the students of Communities at Oshkosh North High School is the same as I remember when I thought Mrs. Campbell was a super hero with amazing hair and impeccable outfits (clearly, this is my perspective since I love fashion). You can relate in some way, can’t you?
I worked on my final project for my master’s degree in education and professional development which discussed the horrible issue of the high school drop-out rate in the United States. I gathered information about why we thought kids dropped out of school. I researched alternative programs for keeping kids in school to high school graduation. I learned the key to keeping children in school is to keep them engaged. I devised a program which included many of the key components of Communities and AMP (another awesome resource for students at Oshkosh North). If I had been in the same circles with the founding teachers of Communities – I would have SO been on board then; I have been on board since I learned of the school and enrolled my daughter.
One way to engage people, any person, in learning or sticking with something is to help them realize the effect and impact the subject matter-purpose-job has on them and others around them. How can you get high school students to realize this? Work in their community. Show them the people beyond the textbooks and theories. Help them stitch their patch to their own life’s quilt and let them see the warmth that comes when all the pieces are sewn together.
Just as Mrs. Campbell did for me in kindergarten when we drew maps of our neighborhoods; met the mail carrier; took the field trips to the businesses – Communities is moving students around in their four dimensional textbooks by partnering with parents, community leaders, local businesses and organizations.
Rather than complain that “kids nowadays have no manners”; Communities is teaching them. Instead of saying “kids don’t have any respect for anyone”; Communities is modeling that in every interaction within our community. Don’t say “teenagers don’t think about anyone but themselves”; Communities is getting students to meet people of diverse backgrounds and ages so they can think about others. My graduate school project pointed out so many problems in education. We all know the system isn’t perfect. Communities recognizes these problems and is providing solutions to so many. See a problem: create a solution – that’s what Communities has tried to do and is doing well in its efforts. Communities has nothing more to do than continue what is working and make improvements at every opportunity.
How many people can say kindergarten was their favorite year in school? I think many could. With the skill levels and academic challenges in place for high school students, Communities may very well be a close second to all the Mrs. Campbells.
To find out more about public charter schools in Wisconsin, please go to the Department of Public Instruction website http://sms.dpi.wi.gov/charter-schools
See what the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has to say about Wisconsin http://www.publiccharters.org/get-the-facts/law-database/states/wi/
If you want to know more about Communities at Oshkosh North High School please go to http://www.communitiesonhs.org/
Please remember, you are the best advocate for your children. Learn about school options so you can make the best choice for your family. Wisconsin Open Enrollment is going on now through April 30, 2015 @ 4:30p.m. Consider your children’s gifts, talents, strengths and weak spots – match them with the right school to fit their needs. http://oe.dpi.wi.gov/
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