Relationship Building (with pie!) – February 13, 2013

Something really great happened last week and I want to tell you about it. Since September we have been trying to get the Beechwood Executive Board and the Parent Advisory Board together for a discussion. With busy schedules and a few unexpected interruptions/distractions, it took a few months to make it happen but we were persistent and we finally pulled it off. It was, in my opinion, a great night.

We met at the home of Marilyn Anderson and Melinda Christopherson, where we were treated to a lovely home-cooked meal. The desserts were so delicious that I could not resist. Pecan pie and ice cream? “Yes please!”. In addition to the delicious food, the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. Dick Jacobsen came with the plans for the new school and we all hovered over the blueprints excited to see the design and think about the future of the school. Sue Jacobsen, Katie Fields, Howard Look, Lisa Pearson and Erik Jacobsen were also in attendance from the Executive Board. Before dinner the two groups mingled and the conversation was lively. We introduced ourselves and talked about our children.

The main purpose of the meeting was to allow the two Boards to get to know each other better and to listen to each other’s hopes, dreams, concerns, and personal challenges. The parents were represented by: Brianda Ponce, Xiomara Nickings, Rosa Gomez, Benita Neal, Michele Vilchez and Merced Sanchez. After dessert (did I mention the pie?) we all sat together to share our feelings about Beechwood. The parents had many wonderful suggestions for how to improve the school and expressed themselves freely and thoughtfully. It was clear to me that a safe environment had been created for everyone to share thoughts without fear of judgment.

One of the themes running through the suggestions the parents made was that Beechwood needs to spend more time together. Not necessarily at parenting classes or workdays or fundraisers but just together in casual, supportive conversation. It was exciting for me to hear that the Parent Advisory Board wants the same thing as the Executive Board: a strong community where all of us; teachers, students, administration and parents feel supported and valued.

We should also feel good, as one parent pointed out, that we have a strong foundation in place with regard to our community. What we are hoping to do is build on that foundation by providing more opportunities to talk to each other, to listen to each other, to share the responsibility for leadership and enjoy each other’s company. As these opportunities come around, I hope that you will feel comfortable attending and that you will challenge yourself to engage in the process of making Beechwood’s community stronger.

Thank you to both Boards for setting aside time in your busy schedules to meet last week. Thank you to Marilyn and Melinda for all of the time and energy they put into hosting the event. It was a lovely evening that made me proud (prouder!) to be a part of the Beechwood Community.

-Mr. Laurance