Open Letter to New LHS Team

Dear Mr. Ash, new administrators, faculty, and staff,

First, congratulations on your new jobs!  You have made some really great impressions somewhere in your educational careers to land the top job (and support jobs) at LHS.  Middle School Principal of the Year in 2009-10 is quite an accomplishment and we are very proud that a LaVergne school was recognized in such a positive way.

I was at the school on Monday night (the Blue Light Special) and really like the new paint in hallways.  I was unable to look around the rest of the school, but the smell of fresh paint was abundant.   I think the custodial crew must deserve some credit for that… good job everyone!

The “Blue Light Special” was a bit chaotic. I would have liked it better had it been spread out because crowds make me very very nervous and we had about 1000 people jammed onto the floor space of the gym.  For example, you could have had the juniors and seniors upstairs and the freshmen and sophomores on the main floor of the gym.  You did jump in about halfway through the evening to relieve some of the chaos by removing the seniors to the cafeteria, the juniors to the auditorium, and the sophomores to the second floor. Another suggestion is next time have the station signs hung above the stations rather than on the front of the tables. When the gym filled up, no one could read where the different stations were because the sea of bodies quite adequately blocked them.  Anyway, I’m glad you recognized the problem and addressed it.  Thank you for relieving that stress factor.

Meanwhile looking to the upcoming school year, you definitely have your work cut out for you.

I’ve heard about kids who make out (read between those lines… what you’re imagining is what I’ve heard happens) in the stairwells.  I’ve heard about kids who just trot over to another car and leave the campus in the mornings after being dropped off by their parents.  I’ve heard about the fights.  I’ve heard about bullies.  I’ve also heard about teachers who say one thing, then say another, and finally punish the students for being confused.  I’ve heard there are some really burnt-out teachers who no longer care and are just putting time in until retirement.

You have your work cut out for you.

I remember going to see a school play and seeing a mouse run across the stage.  There are cleanliness and rodent issues that you’re already addressing with your new staff.  I’ve heard about items being stolen from gym lockers after the kids dress-out and go to class.  You have students with anger issues.  You have students who are disrespectful.  You have students with a mile of attitude who have been raised to scorn education and intelligence.  It saddens me to see what could be good minds (perhaps the person who might have found the cure for cancer) wasted through learned ignorance and defiance.

I hate seeing underwear because kids have their pants drooped to their knees in the name of fashion.  Those are the things that distract other students, not a pink streak in the hair.  Hoodies?  I see nothing wrong with wearing them as long as they aren’t UP and hiding headphones.  I would rather see a UNIFORM for everyone than trying to navigate complex and silly dress code rules.  (The kids may not agreed, but still…)

Meanwhile, please remember there are a lot of GOOD students who also attend.  Sometimes these good kids make bad decisions and they should be held accountable.  But remember a lesson can be learned sometimes with just a simple talk with the principal or assistant principal.  Not every kid has to be suspended, expelled, or radically disciplined.  Recognize that punishment must fit the crime. Anytime a kid is removed from class for a minor reason (e.g., a tiny hole in their jeans) it’s an hour (or more) that the child loses in education.   We aren’t perfect as parents, you aren’t perfect as academicians, so let’s try to remember learning is the reason they are there… and WEIGH the value of education against a minor infraction.

Recognize that some of the kids who get in trouble may just need to see that an adult cares about them and their future.  Recognize that there are children who fall between the cracks and who could blossom with a kind word.  Yes, education should provide opportunities for everyone, but perhaps some of these kids have not been raised in an environment where learning is emphasized.  You can teach them that every decision they make today could impact their future.

If they act like they don’t care, bring in people to talk with them who have survived car wrecks, child abuse, neglect, parents in prison, and unmotivated lifestyles.  Show them they can make good decisions – to read a book, to turn off the cell phones, to carefully choose their friends.

You have your work cut out for you.  So meanwhile as a parent, I pledge to do what I can to help you, the teachers, the staff, and MY CHILD. The phone will be confiscated at 9:00 p.m.  There will be no TV or computer until homework is done.  If I get attitude, it will be corrected.  I will hear the teachers side of the story before I jump to conclusions and swear my angel did nothing wrong.

But listen to us, too.

We can survive high school by working together to support our children.  Are you in?  What else can we do to help?

Remember law is not always justice.


Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.  ~Jonathan Swift, A Critical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind, 1707

(Let’s catch the wasps and hornets at LHS!)

The more laws the more offenders.  ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

(And let’s make the rules count… not silly!)


They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.
— Anonymous

Good luck for the 2010-11 school year!

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