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Caz Connect Blog

Growing up in Detroit in the 1970s provided me with plenty of learning opportunities outside my home.  The fourth child of six offered me numerous situations where my older siblings became my “teacher.”  However, the neighborhood also offered lessons from neighbors, friends, and events.  Even the small businesses that were sprinkled throughout the neighborhood proved to be “learning environments."  Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying "change is the only constant in life."  I’d also argue that “learning is a constant in life… hidden in unassuming places"  

My neighborhood in Detroit was a typical American urban 1970s community.  It was far from the California Brady Bunch home and neighborhood.  In my neighborhood, houses were built close together with front porches for sitting and listening to baseball on the radio in the evenings.  Streets were lined with parallel parked cars almost bumper to bumper.  Trees, bushes, flowers, and lawns were neatly tended to perfection by the old men of the neighborhood.  Middle class mothers, like my Mom, were homemakers with maybe a part time job. 

My neighborhood also had distinctive commercial establishments sprinkled on street corners and intersections.  It was predominantly an ethnic neighborhood of mostly Polish and Eastern European families.  There are two things Polish and Eastern Europeans like- beer and bread.  Without exaggerating, you could walk about 4 city blocks (.25 miles or 384 meters) and find a bar, bakery or corner store (sometimes all 3 in one intersection).  A “corner store” was a small “market” that sold kitchen basics such as canned goods, bread, and milk.  The store also sold snacks such as soda, chips (crisps), and candy.  The corner store was designed to “get you through the week” until you had time to go to the supermarket on the weekends.  Each corner store had a loyal customer following and the proprietors were also neighbors.

Our corner store was called “Larks” and Mr. Lark owned and operated the store.  His family lived above the store and Mrs. Lark would work the cash register at times.  Mr. Lark was super friendly and he knew everyone in the neighborhood.  His store smelled of a combination of fresh smoked sausage and a freshly lit pipe.  I think he was the first to start the “need a penny, leave a penny” concept in Detroit.  There were always coins on top of the cash register in case customers were short a few cents.  At the cash register he had a picture of a young man in a military uniform with a rosary hanging from one side.  (I believe it was his son who died in the US Vietnam War.)  There was a large window facing the street with Coca-Cola stickers and neighborhood notices.  On the way home from school we’d often wave to Mr. Lark or stop in for “penny candy.”  He had a homemade sign near the cash register that read “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.”  The sign was a permanent fixture in the store and at the time I really didn't understand what it meant.

The sign confused me because at times, Mr. Lark and customers did not exchange money.  There were many times my siblings and I went to the store for milk or bread and we did not seem to pay for it.  Once, I asked my Dad what did Mr. Lark’s sign mean?

My Dad said the sign meant that Mr. Lark doesn't trust everyone.  He continued, “Mr. Lark trusts us because we are "good for it”  I surmised that “good for it” means trust.  As I think about it now, “good for it” nicely defines trust.  Keeping your word, promise, or an obligation boils down to the sense that you are “good for it.”  I think I lived my life equating trust with something that you do and trust doesn't matter if it’s earned or not.  Oh yes, I believe you can lose your trust in someone but I don’t agree that “earning” trust is a prerequisite. 

Trust is a vital characteristic of schools and home-school relationships.

It is not hard to characterize the home-school partnership as a trusting relationship.  Educators trust parents' intention and support for the child.  Similarly, parents trust a school and teachers to nurture and instruct their children.  It is a symbiotic relationship with no prerequisite needed.

At AISK, trust is the foundation for supporting students.  Teachers know that parents are doing the best that they can at home supporting their children with homework, behavior, and school in general.  Parents know that teachers are supporting different types of learners and nurturing social-emotional growth.  At AISK, teachers trust that students can learn and will reach the next level of growth.  At AISK there are no prerequisites for trusting parents and students!     

A trusting relationship between school and home motivates teachers to differentiate instruction, support students both inside and outside the classroom, and design a classroom that embraces social-emotional development.  A trusting relationship gives rise to the support and development of the “whole child.”

It is the acknowledgment that the “whole child” matters that makes AISK an amazing place for every type of learner and diverse families.  AISK is a school that knows the needs and support for every child- settling for “most of” is not an option.  At AISK we only settle for “all of.”  As in “all of our students will succeed” and “all of our students will have the opportunity to participate.”  In a world of “some of” there is a place in Jamaica that believes in the “all of” approach.

Take time to see the difference at AISK. At AISK- “Many Hearts, One Community!”