Reflections of Paris

PHSYesterday was the funeral for Ann Mitchell.

She was a teacher. That statement alone says a lot about her.

At the beginning of the service I asked all the teachers to raise their hands.

The sanctuary was full of teachers retired and active in the Paris School System.

Afterwards I reflected on the Paris schools and what I know.

The Paris system is one of those rare small school systems that has avoided consolidation.

When we arrived in Paris, the school created a place for my son with special needs.

They didn't have to do that.

Not only did he have a classroom, but he was included, loved and incorporated into the wider life of the school. It wasn't a forced thing either. He was loved and celebrated. Betsy Whitt is singularly responsible for helping him get the job he has held for 12 years.

This was possible and still is a reality because those at this little school work very hard to do the right thing, to be inclusive and provide a quality education for their students. This is not easy these days. Students face intellectual social and personal needs and the schools try to meet these needs.

The teachers and administrators know each other, work closely together and in many cases are personal friends. Sometimes they are friends of long standing. I witnessed the deep seated grief at losing a colleague and friend at the visitation and funeral.

Often their own children have or do attend the schools.

They have respect and in many cases genuine affection for each other.  In other words, there is a lot of love in this little school.

They help each other.

Retired teachers come back and substitute.

There is profound interest in the students and deep care and compassion from those who work with children and teenagers.

There are so many good people there.

Brian Washington the football coach, whose team was undefeated until last Friday, said to me, "It is not about football. It is about teaching boys how to become good men."

Many of the teachers there have attended or do attend church here.

I happen to know their faith shapes how they go about this sacred task of educating children.

And this makes me glad.

Rest in peace Ann Mitchell and thank you for reminding me in your life and death, what a treasure we have in the Paris Schools.

Moving to the deeper places,

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