Boulevard students at their school's More Than a Score event.
March 4, 2016 -- More Than A Score pep rallies showered affection and encouragement on students and teachers as they started the school day in six Cleveland Heights-University Heights elementary schools on February 17.
Teams of parents and community members at Boulevard, Canterbury, Fairfax, Gearity, Oxford, and Roxboro elementary schools organized programs at their schools that shared a common purpose: to celebrate children, teachers, the amazing effect of each school on individual lives, and the strength of public education.
The celebrations were simple: applause, we love our school banners, appreciative parents and community members, children speaking, music, and at Canterbury, Hershey kisses. The effect was energizing and affirming. And the message was clear: our humanity is important and cannot be measured.
We are more than a score.
While state mandated test results dominate the way schools are described from afar, the events reclaimed a broader definition of success and quality based on close up experience. They celebrated the unique interests and identities of individual children, and the attributes of our schools that matter the most to parents: caring and nurturing teachers, dedicated professionals who go the extra mile to help children and inspire learning, a sense of community and family.
Regardless of the school or the size of the assemblage of school volunteers, parents, alumni and neighbors, community leaders, school administrators and board members who joined in the fun, applause was a big part of every celebration. Students and staff were greeted like rock stars at brief before-school gatherings and again as they were sent off to class. It’s a simple and direct way to say, you matter, you are wonderful. It buoyed the feelings of the cheering section and the cheered!
At each rally the audience heard samples of how students completed the prompt “I am more than a score I am…” Students are glad to be smart and funny and good students, good friends, creative, football players, sisters, dancers, singers, kind, artists, readers, mathematicians, scientists, inventors and hard workers. The comments moved many to tears and communicated in no uncertain terms as third grade teacher Darrell Lauche observed, “These are individual human beings with thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams and test scores do not reflect that.”
As children and parents shared statements about themselves and what they love about their school, the misfit of measurement with humanity was glaring.
By taking time to encourage and appreciate children, educators and schools, the celebrations focused on what far away policy makers seem to have forgotten, that children and their learning are a lot more than a score. By coming together on February 17 the community refused to let a number or a letter grade define our children or our schools.
For Dallas Schubert who helped organize the Fairfax celebration and coordinated the district-wide effort, the events were a relief from the endless focus on performance. “I think it was relief for people to say it out loud. And to know that other people were saying it too.”
The Heights Coalition for Public Education and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Council of PTAs sponsored the day of recognition and appreciation. The six events were among 800 school-based programs held that day in 30 cities to stand up for public education and were organized in partnership with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.
Photos and comments from each event can be found on Facebook at Heights Coalition for Public Education.
This article was submitted by Susie Kaeser, a public school advocate and co-convenor of the Heights Coalition for Public Education. She is a board member of the national organization Parents for Public Schools and a volunteer tutor at Boulevard Elementary School, the school her children attended in the 1980s. She founded Reaching Heights and served as its director for 17 years.