there is a lot going on lately - it's finally the end of the semester, shower-six-times-a-day season has arrived, and weh have been busy trying to keep up with everything going on. i am cutting beads for poderosa mujer like a mad-woman - we have an order for 300 pieces of jewelry and we need more than 2000 hand-rolled beads for that.
this week at school we were busy preparing for re-enrollment. it's a stressful process, and one that had the ability to make or break my vision. i teeter-tottered on the fence of "we're going to be turning people away by the bus-loads" and "how are we going to re-fill these classrooms when nobody wants to re-enroll?"
as the principal, i know all of the problems - the teachers who were physically punishing kids, the kids who just weren't learning, the food allergies and bullying and inappropriateness of some students. it was easy to get lost in that negativity, to underestimate the power of all of the amazing things that have happened this school year and focus just on the quejas, the complaints - most of which were real and valid.
last summer we attempted a summer program. one kid enrolled. granted, we were new, there wasn't a lot of promotion for it and our school-year enrollment had been 23. i was sure that that one-kid enrollment was an omen for a bad school year. the community wouldn't trust us, we'd have to constantly explain ourselves and de-bunk myths just to get people to let us teach their kids. and, although we've had a great year, i've been carrying that little seed of doubt around with me since last june.
this "success" won't last. we'll go stagnant at some point and the whole thing will fall apart.
yesterday was our meeting. it was the test - we made the meeting obligatory for all parents who were interested in re-enrolling their child for the coming school year. we have a waiting list, and the only fair way to give away spots is in a raffle. if the parents didn't show up to the meeting, their kid would be entered into the raffle for next year, taking away the security of a spot. it sounds harsh. but every story is heart breaking, and choosing who "deserves" a spot is impossible. the meeting was scheduled for 4:30.
at 4:35 there were representatives for maybe 40 kids. maybe.
i knew it. my heart sunk a little in my chest. for me, this was the way to know if we were doing it right, if people trusted us and wanted their children with us. and only 40 showed up? really?
the sky was even dark, threatening a crazy-dominican-style downpour, so we started. and kind of masochistically, knowing the weight that last year's summer-school failure held in my mind, i had "summer program" as the first point on the agenda. if there wasn't interest, i don't know what i would have done. i quickly explained why we'd like to "do summer," but also that we couldn't do it if there wasn't enough interest. (i left out that if nobody raised their hands i might die).
the whole room raised their hands. and by the time i had finished talking about summer programming, the room was full. over-full even. (i'd say standing room only, but we only have 30 adult-sized chairs, so meetings are almost always standing room only). of 93 students, only about 10 were not represented in the meeting. we will be full and growing next school year.
it's funny to me how i can hold on to one thing for so long as proof that things aren't going to work, even in the face of such proof that it is. we've been blessed over and over again this year in ways that i'd never imagined - from donations of supplies to volunteer-teachers to community support beyond belief and yet i held the single-student enrollment in my heart, letting it keep me down, keeping me from trusting that this is good.
i can't hold onto that anymore. it's time to hold on to the positive, the fruitful. it's so much easier to do, too, the pain and worry associated with that one little negative piece stressed me more than you could believe, but now, i'm choosing to hold on to all of the hands that were raised in that room - we want our children here, we want to invest in them.