This I Believe

Heather - Whiting, Maine
Entered on October 20, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

The Two-Room Schoolhouse

Work drew me from the small city in East Texas where we had been living to a tiny town in Coastal Maine. No one seems to know the exact population here. Let’s just say that it is small. Gone were the multiple school visits I had done to decide which school to attend for kindergarten. Here there is one school, a village school. A two-room schoolhouse. Literally. In one room a teacher manages the students from kindergarten through third grade. The other room houses the older students through middle school.

Again we were both nervous. The first day drop-off was a little rough. He was the new kid in a school where everyone had known each other, well, forever. I waited at the bottom of the front steps at the end of the day. A father turned to me as I waited. “Good things happen in there,” he said. Finally there was my son at the top of the steps. In general he tends toward stoicism, but I’ll never forget the look on his face. He was grinning.

“How was it?” I asked.

“Great,” he said as we walked to the car. That was a word I never heard during kindergarten. The whole ride home I listened as he told me about breakfast. (They had a pancake on a stick). He talked about recess. (And older girl pushed him on the swings.) He told me about the spelling bee they had and the book the librarian was reading to them after lunch. He told me about his new friend, a third grader who was his buddy for the day. A couple of weeks later, the school had a star gazing party with a retired astronomy professor. It was late on a Friday. On the way over I told my son not to be disappointed if not that many people were there. He nodded. We’d been to sparsely attended pumpkin patch visits, bowling parties where only a handful of kids showed up. As we came up over the hill, I noticed cars parked alongside the road. The lot was full. We walked up behind the school, following the dirt road that winds behind the cemetery. There in the dark, listening as the astronomer talked of the constellations and mythology the rift in the Milky Way were more than fifty people. Almost the whole school.

I have no idea how many of these students will go on to attend college. There isn’t a state of the art computer lab here. They don’t have fancy workstations for the kids. They don’t have their own stables or tennis team. Frankly I don’t much care because my son is learning more, playing more, excited more. What I have found in the short time we have been part of this village community is that what the father said to me on the first day is true. Good things do happen in there. A lot of them.