Last Tuesday I read to the third-graders in Mrs. Frank's class at Berrian School.
Berrian is a very interesting story. It's a building more than 100 years old that was basically shuttered by Quincy Public Schools in the 1960s. In the late 90s the school board decided to open it again, as it is a classic neighborhood school.
The building was completely overhauled, and it opened in August of 1999 for grades K through 3.
At that time Emily was getting ready to enter third grade at Adams School, where she had gone since kindergarten. When Berrian opened the district lines were redrawn and we found ourselves in Berrian's district. We could have kept Emily at Adams, but decided to send her to the new school.
A lot of the neighborhood parents kept their kids away from Berrian. They didn't want their kids going to school with the children from the nearby projects. The neighborhood runs from middle class to well under the poverty level, and the projects by Indian Mounds aren't pretty.
Boy, did they miss out.
Third grade proved to Emily's best year ever in school. She flourished in the small classroom environment and she had a superb young teacher, Jill Schinderling. The principal, John Tignor, was a visionary who worked his butt off to prove Berrian could shine.
I drive up Eighth Street a lot and I always look at that northeast corner classroom window, remembering that great year.
Today, Ms. Schinderling (now Mrs. Reis) is the principal at Berrian, and they are still doing great things there.
Last Tuesday, I talked to the 11 third-graders about the newspaper business and we stressed the importance of reading. Then I read the story called "Conrad The Cricket" from the book we published in honor of my mom. She wrote a short story for each of her grandchildren for Christmas 2004, and we had it "published" for her birthday last March. After she died, we used some of the estate money to publish hardbound copies with her stories.
The kids loved the story and were very polite and full of good questions. It might have been the most productive half an hour I've spent in a long, long time.
Mom? Your stories live on. Your book is still at Berrian School, and I hope Mrs. Frank's class reads the rest of the stories.
They are still doing great things at Berrian.
Funny thing is, it's not just the students who learn.