Friday, October 12, 2007

Feeding 80/The Hannukah of Birthdays

This could also read 'Feeling 80' at the moment. Because? Last night we fed 80 people. In one and a half hours. And I only have one small saucepan of curry left.
Some background: Our neighborhood features a K-8 school. This year, there are over 1000 kiddos registered and attending. So, a staff of around 80 services the school. It is an English as a Second Language (ESL) specialty school, as our population here is 17% Asian - Engineers imported from China, South Korea, India, Japan and other Pacific Rim countries. We have children who speak NO English in classrooms. Volunteers from the neighborhood, and older students fluent in the language, help out in the classrooms. Anyway, it is a superb school; and after some cage rattling, I am very happy with the level of Special Needs services Ryan is receiving to help with his speech difficulties.
Unfortunately, last year the school had a snafu with District PTA and our school's attempt to set up a 501.c.3 separate from the PTA for fundraising. Why would a school set up another 501.c.3 (tax exempt) fundraising vehicle, you may ask? Because District and National PTA could possibly direct how your very own school can spend the money, that's why. For example, spending the money on salaries for paraprofessionals to assist with teaching and pupil management might not be okay with District. And other spending might be ix-nayed. And why should ANY entity that is not directly affected by decisions be allowed involvement in the decision-making process, we asked. So, we are allowing PTA to die a slow, and now painful, death. We spent all the money in the PTA accounts to drain it down last year. However, PTA directors and school officials could not tell the rest of us what really happened. Our school district Big Cheeses obviously told them to keep mum about it. It meant that disorganization and confusion were rampant in the school. And volunteers were not organized as our former PTA people were and are understandably jaded, and have been unfairly accused of 'having an agenda'. Puhlease.
Last year, the rumor mill started up in rare form. "Teachers are quitting over this PTA fiasco!", "Our students won't get to do the 5th-grade trip (camping for 2 nights and some team-building stuff to prepare them for middle school), and all our Field Trips are at risk!" "National PTA is going to SUE US!"
All not true.
But what that kind of gossip and doomsday predicting can do, in the end, is affect how the community looks on your school. It will eventually start to hurt property values! PEOPLE - THINK!
Some parents are trying very hard to renew school spirit, for lack of a better term. One group has begun a landscape refurbishing that gave the school a pretty astonishing face lift overnight. There are other groups that are going full steam with the new 501.c.3 and other good things. And I offered to do the one thing I can do - I can feed large groups pretty easily.
So, during Parent/Teacher conferences this week and next, the parents are feeding our school staff of 80 lovely, home-cooked meals. Last night I made two kinds of currty, Thai and Indian, and other parents brought all the sides. And they were yummy! Authentic family recipies, eagerly and lovingly prepared for a staff we are lucky to have serving our neighborhood. And I can't wait to tell all the other parents who helped last night that our dinner got a standing ovation from the teachers and staff.

Now, about the Hannukah of Birthdays. My birthday was a week ago. I have always felt "Why celebrate only one day?" I celebrate the entire month of October! Many lunches out, many celebratory walks and trips. It's a beautiful time of year to get out and about with friends. So I use my birthday as an excuse to see my friends.


sueeeus said...

Hooray for you! Hooray for your involvement and for working so hard to for your children's educational needs! Hooray for a fine and well received meal! Hooray for a Hannukah of Birthdays!! Happy Birthday Ms!!

Suse said...

That's a wonderful idea to feed the whole staff during parent-teacher interview week.

Last term my youngest's teacher was looking v.tired in the final week or so of school (she has 4 kids of her own) and so I made a double batch of soup and took it to her one afternoon to feed her family that night and save her from cooking. The look on her face was indescribable and I realised how easy it is to boost morale and help out. Made me vow to do it at least once a term to each of my boys' teachers. You are great to organise feeding the lot of them, bravo!

And happy birthday!

Caro said...

Happy belated birthday!

That thai curry sounds so good and I'm betting gluten-free.

I suuuuuure wish I had the recipe.

You are an awesome Mom to be that involved in all the school stuff and to feed eighty people. Zoinks!

blackbird said...

Hey - happy birthday...

and bravo on all that work -

Joke said...

Have you awakened yet?


My float said...

Ah, school politics. How painful that so much effort goes into rumourmongering etc when it could all go to a much better cause - building up the school.

How lovely of you to cook for so many. You and others like you are the glue that holds schools together.

Miz S said...

Hey! I missed your birthday!