Thursday, July 15, 2010

Looking Ahead

Today I finally got around to checking the Beckford Parents Twitter account and I found a tweet from our friends at PTO Today:

@beckfordparents So are you taking it easy this summer or have you started in on next school year stuff already?

I replied that I was feeling a little sad and stressed and I will admit that it's been a shaky start to what I had imagined would be a restful, re-energizing summer, it hasn't exactly turned out that way.

Of course you know by now that we are currently without a principal, as Mrs. Barbara Friedrich has left to take a new position at a brand spankin' new school and we are excited for her, as this is a wonderful opportunity for her. While that news alone was a shock for our school, we were resigned to the fact that change would be coming, and we all talked ourselves into believing that this will be a good thing. Change is always exciting and mostly good, and I was okay with it, even though I was looking forward to working with Mrs. Friedrich as the PTA president for the new school year.

Next of course, we learned that we would be losing our plant manager, Henry Callahan. Henry has been at Beckford since before our family arrived there in 1998. You simply can't imagine what this loss means to us here at Beckford. Henry is simply indispensable. During my first term as PTA president back in 2002-2003, Henry was my main man, he was the wind beneath our wings as a parent group, he never said no to any of our demanding requests and always was quick to be supportive and helpful when things didn't always go as planned. Not to mention his great rapport with the kids and everyone who had the pleasure of working with him.

Losing Henry, of course, means that things might not be so smooth on campus.... or clean. This also worries me. I keep thinking that this moment.... when we lose our plant managers all across the district, will be a defining moment for the district. Here is where I believe will be the beginning of an even greater decline in the quality of education our children are getting at the hands of the district. Not because of lack of quality in teaching, no... teachers will continue to be wonderful and fabulous.... it's everything else they're going to have to deal with in the absence of a full time plant manager. We've been writing and calling our school board members and the LAUSD Chief Facilities Director, James Sohn, but it isn't looking very good for us.

Oh, and hey, did I mention our Administrative Assistant Carmen Dashiell is following Mrs. Friedrich to her new school? So our office is pretty much rudderless. Maureen will still be there, thank goodness, because she is awesome and our kids and parents love her so there will still be at least one familiar, friendly face in the office. We're hoping to keep Tiana and Lucia in the office as well. Keep your fingers crossed. So the score card for the beginning of the school year looks like this: No Barbara. No Henry. No Carmen. Maybe no Tiana. Maybe no Lucia.

Additionally, one of our most profound losses ever here at Beckford happened the week after school was out:

Our little school, our neighborhood, our community was shocked and completely heartbroken at the tragic death of Beckford alum Zac Champommier.

Those of us at Beckford who knew and loved Zac won't ever forget him. For a very special year (2nd grade for Zac) Zac, Stephanie P., and Matt spent a lot of after school time in the library with me and we'd do homework together. Zac and Stephanie were really competitive with each other to see who would finish their homework first! Stephanie almost always won, not to mention that Ms. Kurkian always praised Stephanie's perfect penmanship, Zac's sorta paled in comparison, which Ms. Kurkian would point out and Stephanie would like to give Zac the business about it, good-naturedly needling him. Back then, I would secretly imagine that Zac and Stephanie would grow up and get married and they would come back to Beckford to visit and I would tell them stories about when they were younger, when they were such fast friends and so sweet with each other as seven-year-olds, so sweet with everyone.

That's what hurts so much about all of this: our Beckford kids are good kids and leave Beckford richer for the many lessons in character building they receive throughout their time at school; our Beckford parents and teachers are strong and nurturing and loving; we are a close, tight-knit community; to lose such a wonderful boy so senselessly is haunting.


The days are becoming hotter and the start of school is looming ever closer. I know I need to start getting busy and focusing on the beginning of the school year, which will be here sooner than we think.

We'll be getting ready to start interviewing applicants for the principal's position and by all accounts, all the applicants thus far are stellar by reputation. I'll keep you updated on the process and let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, I'm going to be optimistic from here on and hopeful for a really great new year, filled with change and growth. I'll be calling the new board shortly and arranging a planning meeting soon. I'll keep you updated with those details, as well.

I look forward to facing the changes, the challenges and the successes together with you.... together we can face and overcome almost anything: the good times, the bad times and the uncertain times. Thanks for your support, I appreciate it.


Shelly Clark said...

Debbie, I so appreciate the time and effort you make to keep us informed. I feel sort of teary eyed (imagine that, me teary eyed) about all of the changes that are taking place, but like you, I am hopeful that change is good!

Debbie Lopez said...

Thanks Shelly, you saying that makes me teary eyed. :)

Nina N. said...

Debbie, I think you've put into words the I am the ambiguity we all feel about the changes going on at Beckford, putting together the hope and dread we feel about the unknown. Personally, I really dislike change; ironically, my work prior to motherhood was all about change management.

I am really looking forward to working with you on the PTA board in the upcoming year. I am the chirpy "It's gonna be all right" type; hopefully you won't get sick of me!