Woodstock Area Job Bank

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When my first child was mid-way through his first year of nursery school, my husband and I attended our first parent-teacher conference. We knew we had a great kid and couldn’t wait to hear how well he was doing at school.

The teacher welcomed us into a bright, inviting classroom and asked us to take a seat in two diminutive chairs at an equally diminutive table. She handed us a red construction paper folder filled with colorful scribbles and a skills checklist. The checklist looked at Sam in ways we had never considered, ranking each skill from 1 (not yet evident) to 5 (proficient) Our hearts sank when we read down the list.

Identifies 8 basic colors 1
Follows directions 1
Shows interests in books 1
Counts to 10 1
Identifies 4 basic shapes 1
Sits quietly in circle 1
Listens attentively 1

Our child was failing nursery school. At three years old Sam was a failure.

Mrs. White, seeing our despair, pointed out one bright spot on the report—way at the bottom…

Plays well with others 5

“See that? That’s the one that really matters–all the other stuff just takes time. This is just a check list. Some kids know their colors early, some don’t. But Sam, he knows how to get along.”

I would like to tell you Sam went on to have years of stellar reports. I can’t. His first grade teacher wrote he was pesky, his second grade teacher wrote that Sam and his best friend, Sam W., should never be placed in the same classroom again; his third grade teacher said he should be a politician. Thankfully, on every report card there was the equivalent high mark for “plays well with others”.

Mrs. White was right. In due time, Sam learned to count to 10, identify colors, and listen attentively. As Sam got older, he became a leader. As an adult he uses his people skills everyday as a teacher for autistic children— helping them communicate with the world.

Yesterday, The Job Bank got another call from the high school. Sarah made a mistake. She had done something stupid, and needed to work off 10 hours of community service. This time I was in the middle of a big project and couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

I love the idea of working with the high school to offer students valuable community experiences rather than sitting in detention. What could I do? I decided to put out a call to other area non-profits. Glad Rags jumped at the chance to help. Sarah will spend her community service hours helping them put on their 29th sale. In turn, Glad Rags will use the money they raise to help fund other great organizations in our community. They know how to “play well with others” too.

Until next week,
Beth Crowe

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