Walking into a small school is like walking down main street of my home town of New Market, Minnesota,when the population was less than 250 people. Everyone greats each other with a smile and a nod. The stranger in town is greeted with a smile and a hint of skepticism until the townspeople know his purpose for visiting.
Well, everyone knew my purpose when I walked into Hancock Elementary on Friday, October 8, 2010, dressed in a bibbed overall. They knew I came prepared to perform If I Were a Farmer, Nancy's Adventure to K-1 and A Farm Country Thanksgiving to grades 2-4 and grades 5-6. I did not feel like a stranger. I felt welcome because everyone seemed to be expecting me, and that's a great feeling.
Before my show, first graders join the group, and I am delighted at everyone's enthusiastic attention.
There are lots of questions and comments after the show.
After the show K-1 leave and grades 2-4 are seated while I change the DVD. This group is larger and seems eager to begin the show.
Children in grades 2-4 listen intently as I show a picture of the farm I grew up on and tell them a little about the place.
After the show we have no time for questions because we have to move our equipment to another room to set up for grades 5-6.
These older students have the same enthusiasm as the younger kids, yet respond with serious understanding of the events in the book.
In the picture below, they chuckle as I explain two kinds of cats in our barn: top cats and flat cats.
Top cats sleep on top of the cow's back.
Flat cats sleep under the cow, but only once.
We had time for a few questions, but the school day was over and students had to catch their buses.
As Nancy and I start the journey home, we discuss the advantages of a small school. I know there are lots of success stories from leaders in big cities who "turn schools around" by taking a group of kids and working with them until they graduate. It's interesting that when somebody does this in a big city, it's news, but isn't that what small schools have always been doing? I know that was the case in the country school I attended decades ago.
And it's certainly true of Hancock. With about 250 students in PreK-12 (about 100 of them in K-6) in different wings of the same building, the teachers and students all know each other and can support each other for over 12 years. It's just not "news" when we do it in the country.