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Big Apple doesn't offer personal taste

Taking Notes
by Vicky Livesay

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, my husband and I recently took a trip to New York City. It was a different world there and we were amazed at everything the Big Apple had to offer.
We could step outside our hotel and find 50 different choices of restaurants – everything from Burger King and Italian to things as surprising as Brazilian and Korean food. A car was unnecessary as we walked everywhere we needed to go.
Had we needed transportation, the subway and bus were nearby. And, of course, there were museums and theatres everywhere.
But on our walks through the different neighborhoods of NYC, I always noticed the schools. They were imposing looking buildings with large gates to, I guess, keep the world out. There were paved areas with basketball goals, but I saw no grassy areas.
I wondered what it was like inside. Were the hallways decorated with colorful bulletin boards? Were notices posted about upcoming PTO meetings or student assemblies? I can only imagine there were lockers with abandoned notebooks left over from the just completed school year. I hope on the inside, it was more school-like than the outside.
I discovered the New York City school system is the largest in the United States with 1.1 million students throughout its 1700 schools. They employ more than 75,000 teachers. Even though their schools have names, more often they are referred to by numbers such as P.S. 53 or P.S. 11 – P.S. meaning public school.
How different from our schools. We are proud to be from Unicoi County High School or Temple Hill Elementary. Our schools are beautiful and inviting.
We have security measures in place, but we don’t have tall fences around our schools to keep students safe. And I love that at graduation time, I can applaud students who I watched grow up as they take their walk across the stage.
And we know our parents. We run into them at Wal-Mart and Food Lion. We stop and chat, not only about school but also about our lives in general. In a city of 1.1 million students, I can’t imagine that happens very often – and I would miss that connection with parents, students and the community.
So even though a big city has a lot to offer, I have to wonder – at what price? I feel certain our students go through school with teachers who know them and care about them in a way that just wouldn’t happen in a large city.
And I think parents and students feel secure that school is a safe place – even without enormous fences. We offer a more personal education. And I think we all do better for people who we know care about us.
Don’t let anyone tell you bigger is better. In small towns, we have connections with each other that just can’t be duplicated in the big city. You’ve heard it before – “There’s no place like home.”