So Impressed

Last week, my colleague Laura and I visited a number of schools in the Quad Cities as our firm had put on a Financial Literacy challenge for the month of April. In partnership with the Davenport Schools Foundation and the Moline Public Schools Foundation, we challenged teachers of both districts to come up with ideas of how best to use $100 to teach their students about money. Going to the boat was not an option!

Two things impressed me about visiting these schools and putting on this challenge. First of all, the ideas we got were detailed, interesting and creative. It was very cool just reading all of the submissions and having to choose the ‘best’ ones. However, the thing that impressed me the most was just the teachers themselves, regardless of the $100 or what they had submitted for the challenge. Walking through those schools and seeing the energy and effort that all of the teachers were putting into their classrooms was absolutely inspiring. 

For a lot of us, we have this long break with schools. We’ve graduated or finished with our MBA and then put our head down and work. We work and work and then one day we find that our dual-income-no-kids life has morphed into brand-new parents and a little baby. Then suddenly it’s all about these new ‘worries’ and decisions. What car seat to buy, what stroller to get, etc… and then comes the decision about schools.

If you ask me, it’s gotten a bit out of hand. When you search for a house now using Zillow or Trulia or some other app, you’re flat out told with green, yellow and red colors how good public schools are in the area. It’s like staring at the potential future success of your child while deciding where to buy a house. Having a real estate app tell you the rating of your school if you haven’t visited the school or talked with real parents who send their real kids there is like asking the hotel concierge for the best restaurant and finding yourself eating at the hotel steakhouse that night. You clearly haven’t done the research and just settled for the easy thing. Thank you internet!

I get it. For certain areas in the country, OK. But, where I live, arguably all of the public schools in this area are pretty OK. Plus, let’s stop giving parents another reason not to be parents.

Here is why I say this… and back to the teachers. 

The teachers I saw last week were some of the most forward-thinking, inspirational teachers I’ve met. If parents are doing their job, then these teachers can absolutely take the reins when the kids are in their classrooms. I have no doubt about that.

It’s pretty easy to judge schools and teachers from a distance and make the ‘school choice’ decision using some app’s scale, but actually walking the hallways gives you a much better sense of the real people doing amazing things in our schools every day. If you can, I’d encourage you to get out from behind your screen and actually give this a try. You’re likely to see some pretty cool things.