On Tuesday, Caroline came home with homework. Something she wasn’t expecting during her last week of school. They were going to write an essay, or maybe just a paragraph, she wasn’t sure, on “What C.B. Eller Means to Me,” and her homework was to plan out her essay and come up with a strategy. Being her last week of fifth grade, her last year at this great little elementary school, I guess her teachers were wanting them to reflect on their time there before moving on to middle school next year. So I hijacked the assignment. I am doing it for myself, because listening to her brainstorm made me realize just how much I appreciate this school and everything it has meant to my kids, and how much I’ve grown to love it.
What C.B. Eller Means to me:
A Home Away from Home. C.B. Eller is like a second home for my kids. And when I say that, I don’t mean it’s just a place where they spend most of their time. It’s a place where they feel safe and loved, just like at home. I remember clear as day, just like it was yesterday, Caroline as a kindergartener walking herself in to school on the second day, all by herself. Most of the other moms were still walking their little ones in, but Caroline had informed me on the first day that she didn’t need me in the morning. And even though I had a tinge of a sentimental feeling rise up in me while I watched that jaunty little girl walk into school, I felt totally confident in letting her go. I knew that she had a teacher who loved her, and school staff and administration who were there for her. Ever since that second day of school there have been countless ways these great people at C.B. Eller showed me that they cared about my children like family — notes of encouragement, high fives from teachers, teachers who eat lunch with the kids even though they could be having down time in their room or the teacher’s lounge, a secretary who always has a smile on her face, a helping hand from the principal to jump over the puddles getting out of the car on rainy days — it’s the little ways they show they care that matter most.
It’s more than just EOGs! Even as early as preschool, parents of Caroline’s friends were talking about the dreaded EOGs. Will our children be able to handle the stress? Should schools be teaching to the test? What is too much when it comes to practice tests? It’s a big worry, but not for us, thank goodness! Yes, the kids at C.B. Eller take EOGs starting in third grade, and have more assessments from the time they’re in kindergarten than I ever did. But teaching to the test isn’t the priority at this school. They learn all year long, and when it’s time for those end of grade tests, they’re told to get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and do their best. And along the way, in addition to a few days of tests, Caroline has been able to take part in a wax museum filled with notable North Carolinians, do three different science fair projects, work on research of a topic of her choosing (which happened to be sink holes for some reason), make applesauce in a crock pot to honor Johnny Appleseed, learn how Christmas is celebrated around the world, and countless other hands-on learning opportunities that you don’t find on a standardized test.
The Field Trips. Yes, one of the things I love about C.B. Eller are the great field trips each class goes on. In addition to great performances at the John A. Walker Center at Wilkes Community College, Caroline has gotten to go to the North Carolina Zoo, Grandfather Mountain, Catawba Science Center, and many other places where she explored and leaned new things.
In the end, I can see why it was hard for Caroline to put into words what C.B. Eller means to her, because even though I can go on and on about how much I love the teachers, the community, and the things she has learned at this school, there’s a part of what this school means to me that just can’t be put into words. I’ve watched my daughter learn, grow, and make lasting friendships and wonderful memories.
And maybe most importantly, what I love about Caroline’s time at C.B. Eller is that it has prepared her for her next adventure — middle school here we come!