Editor's Note: The following letter was submitted by resident Molly Illes.
Dear Richfield citizens,
Two years ago when my son started kindergarten at a high-performing, 93% white, language immersion school, we were all thrilled. He was quickly becoming proficient in a foreign language and soaking up the culture. Over the course of two years, I ignored the chaos in the incredibly cluttered hallways and disarray in the classroom as I dropped my children off in their classrooms.
However, last year when my son relayed story after story about racial and sexist remarks from one child to another child in his classroom, it upset him. He intervened on the bi-racial girl's behalf. It's what we've taught him to do. The adults who should have taken action, did not. Despite multiple meetings with the teachers, principal and even the chair of the board, no one ever relayed the recurring incidences to the parents of the boy, nor did they discipline him effectively.
My son, who is a really regular kid, just wanted to fit in. With six other boys in the class and sixteen girls, either you were part of this pack or you weren't. Over the course of six months, he became disengaged in school.
In late April last year, my husband and I had enough. We abruptly pulled both of our children out of the immersion school to Sheridan Hills. I didn't expect much. Sheridan Hills is JUST, after all, our neighborhood school.
Within the first five minutes I knew I was in the right place. Principal, Jodi Markworth reassured me that they don't tolerate such behavior at this school. While on a tour, kids who were walking fast in the hallway slowed to a calm walk, waving when they saw Principal Markworth in the hall. There was no chaos. There was learning going on in the classrooms. My son's teacher last year, Mrs. Thompson as well as his second grade teacher, Mrs. Giefer are extraordinary.
Now, fast forward six months, my son, who had stopped writing during class because his teacher told him to "write pretty, like the girls write" is getting 10 out of 10 on his spelling test. He's started reading chapter books and loves to work on his math homework. My happy, healthy son is once again productive. Sheridan Hills and the extraordinary Richfield summer school program got him back on track.
As a PhD student at the University in evaluation studies, I know the importance of setting a strong foundation for future learning; I also understand that grades and test scores are only one measure of a child's success. My son wants to be a paleontologist and, heaven help us, my daughter wants to be a doctor. I hope and pray that Richfield citizens will see the value in supporting the public schools by voting in favor—on both questions—for the referendum. Your investment is, on average, a mere $13 a year. The reward, however, is productive, healthy children who will someday be leaders in our community and greater society.
Molly Illes, Richfield
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