Less than 24 hours after Jay and I hosted our first, and by all accounts, incredibly successful Open House for that tiny charter school we have tried to help for the last year, we both no longer have jobs. So surreal I’m still in a state somewhere between shock and numb.
Estimates were over 150 people came to see the school, eat from the four happily sold out food trucks, check out the local car club, fill a room listening to live acoustic music by recording artist Brutha White.
Kids ran around with football sized multi colored shaved ice playing ping pong and test out the new putting area for our new golf team.
Students dragged parents into my highly decorated room, the true antidote for the muted, sterile, office like environment they had been forced to go to try to learn in for the last 5 years, to share the excitement for the new STEAM Program I was volunteering to set in place literally for free.
Donations had poured my way giving me more than the determination I needed to watch a fledgling project grow with no money in my pockets. The kids faces and smiles were the fuel. The parents sighs of relief that someone like me had come into their child’s world was the reason why.
Jay and I both made friends during Open House. The community came to support us and we felt it.
The next school day the kids were exhausted from the night and shared what flavors of shaved ice they had. My interviews for student council were wrapping up and all 8 council members had projects and partners to move forward.
We knew the school was hurting. With 22 enrolled that’s not much in terms of funding.
We also knew the ” principle” was not at school all of last year as she was ” retiring ” leaving only 2 male teachers, no front desk, no nurse, no aids. No fire drills.Nothing.
By the end of last year things were so unstructured and messy that I stepped up and said I would volunteer. The need was so great and so obvious there was no choice.
I promised those students I had started to bond with that over the summer serious change would happen just trust.
Jay and I worked tirelessly over the summer break bring a warmth and personality to those basic and empty rooms allotted to us.
The ” bosses” “owners” whatever the hell you call 2 “educated” humans that choose to barely put attention to a school they created in a strip mall and pretend to be teaching at. Well those two individuals spent their summer in Hawaii.
No they brought back no gifts. Nothing. Hardly a story to share. Certainly no enthusiasm for the children about a place literally erupting new life.
Weekend before school starts they go away again.
No effort towards the school. None.
Jay and I developed two sport teams, concept learning around the 100% computer learning the students had been forced to do and could now manipulate, created 3 new STEAM based extracurricular classes with parents permission slips signed ready to go.
We painted the game wall blue for the never seen school colors of blue and gold. We found out we were the Bears and eagerly sought help getting shirts in the works for the students.
Those owner people again did nothing.
I was able to get free advertising in the newspaper , internet, local monthly and the radio station the Wave spoke about us almost daily for Open House. Flyers were posted in local businesses.
Yet those two horrid people were more concerned about money and that Autistic children are ” worth more” in terms of funding.
They suggested using basically dime baggies filled with rocks and their business cards dropped at driveways in a local gated community as a way to drum up business.
Yes, we are still talking about a free school open to the public.
So out of touch, so insensitive to the students and what hell they daily call school, when the bills mounted and the landlord still wanted rent, it was Jay and especially me that had to go!
My exceptionally popular brand new room and program was being shuttered to rent out that “useless” space so it could make money. Possibly a pizza place I was told. The sting still rings from such a smack in the face along with the light nervous giggle that accompanied such deceitful news balls my fists.
Yes Stacy, your wildly popular program that can and will bring the school to life, empty that room please. We didn’t get 10 or more new recruits or any Autistic students in less than 24 hours since Open House so you are gone . Jay, we can’t pay you. Tops is 20k. Told otherwise barely a week previous he was still getting salary with a meager 2 k raise over last year.
Those people, those outwardly ” nice” people had screwed us hard with no kisses or lube. Hard.
I made a conscious decision at that moment to not have police called on me for kicking someone’s ass. Hard. I’m 50 and have no record which is pretty damn surprising if you know me.
Anger spewing inside hotter than any lava flow , I saw red. They were hurting kids but not in the hitting or abusive way. They used them for profit. Dollar signs on their heads.
Do the bare minimum. So what if they play video games all day? Just shhhhhh. Sit on the computer from 8-3. Here’s a snack.
It couldn’t be real. They were nice people, good salt of the earth Midwest people weren’t they? Soft spoken. Educated. White. Don’t cha know ?
I’m the mean edgy one . I’m the one with the bad mouth and tattoos and snakes. I’m the lightning rod for drama or attitude. Yet I am the one who donated everything to kids I’m not related to. I cried with them , hugged them, encouraged, and gave my heart to those who really needed to be heard. Me and my husband gave our money and time to help support a tiny community school of kids ignored by its surroundings. No parks, not welcome to live in certain ” communities ” no sport team or field and a school so sterile and pale no one cares if you only attend 3 days a week. You matter so little in terms of personal growth or happiness they actually encourage students to come only three days a week.
The emotional pain this will cause the students is yet to be seen. Monday the band aid will be ripped off.
The pet lizard is gone. No council, no classes, no teams, no more laughter and fun. Nothing to look forward to. Mrs. O is not coming back nor is Mr. O. Rent , money and horrible adults have decided your happiness and your future doesn’t matter to them. Their bank notes do.
Sent from my iPhone