by Pam Turos | Originally published in the Euclid Observer community newspaper. Two years ago, my husband and I were sitting at the dining room table with our oldest son who was half-way through his freshman year at the private high school he enthusiastically wanted to attend just one year earlier.
He wanted to change schools, and his reasons and concerns were legitimate enough that we were willing to help him consider all the options. It was a new thing for both of us — kids having so many choices (and opinions) about where to attend school. It’s also a privilege that many people don’t have.
When choosing schools for all three of my children, the decision has always been a balance between recognizing what each of my children needs to succeed and my belief that our current method of rating and funding public schools is deeply flawed. It is not easy to look past or investigate every inflammatory news story, viral social media post, and state test scores to try and connect with the heart and soul of a school community. But every time I have done so, it has been worth it for our family.
When my son decided he wanted to transfer to Euclid High School, he was already playing soccer with a nice group of kids from the school. So I talked to their parents, including many people who have always considered attendance at the local high school a given for their family — many of whom have been my children’s sports teammates, mentors, youth coaches, and theater idols. I talked with a neighbor whose son had transferred to Euclid from a local private high school to “catch up his grades.” He liked it so much he decided to stay, especially the elective Money Matters class, which I think should be a requirement in every public and private high school.
I talked to the teachers. I learned about the decades of experience held by most Euclid teachers and all of the non-traditional learning opportunities that are designed to help every student find something they can enjoy learning or doing, including a few programs that are nationally recognized — also something that will never be reflected in a standardized test score.
We knew several other Euclid families who were making similar decisions this time last year, and we shared notes and experiences along the way. I’m glad to report that all of those families ultimately chose Euclid schools.
As parents, we all want our children to be safe. So, I also talked to the Euclid High School resource officer and several other Euclid police officers to learn the facts behind their frequent presence at the school. I talked with the director of communications and multiple school board members to learn about their goals and the positive gains that Euclid schools are making, things I knew wouldn’t be reflected on a standardized test.
More than anything else, I am a mother doing my best to raise emotionally healthy, independent children who realize their potential, take pride in hard work, and can navigate happily in a diverse world. This year, as a sophomore at Euclid High School, our son has shown more indicators of this success than we have seen in him any year prior.
One of my most enduring beliefs is that we tend to see what we are looking for — both in other people and in our communities. During our school research phase and my first year as a parent returning to Euclid schools, I was looking for “the good.” Not just for my own family, but because I know that it’s too easy to get twisted up inside by all the fear-based, negative information that our culture thrives on. No matter what decision we made with our son, I wanted it to be a fair and informed decision. I also want to believe in the future of Euclid because this community is my home.
Thankfully, it did not take me long to connect with other people who are committed to these same values, including countless dedicated teachers, students, staff, parents, coaches, administration, and tireless volunteers who have welcomed us into their community. They are the heart and soul of Euclid schools. And they are our future.