Perspectives: 16/365

Emily Dawson (Working Mother)

My job is not my life
School is not my kids’ life either
It’s something they do,
Something necessary,
But in the end,
What do any of us remember about high school,
College for that matter,
We do all that time in school,
Finish,
And go to work.

I’ve never written a paper for work,
I’ve never had lunch detention
For laughing at my friend’s joke,
I’ve never had a boss threaten me
With bad grades or an awful future
If I don’t get my homework done.

My high school was awesome.
We loved being there mostly because of our friends,
Our sports were awesome,
We won everything,
Football, basketball, soccer, track, baseball,
It didn’t matter because we rocked.

I feel for my kids
Because their school is not like that.
They never win, so
The aggravation of all that other stuff,
Homework, grades, testing
Has no outlet, no release,
School is just work because of that.

Perspectives: 15/365

Amy Thomson (Yoga Studio Owner)

Only organic,
No nitrates or nitrites,
More meditation,
Simple supplements,
No contact sports,
Back seat for kids,
Sugar is a drug,
Yoga is a lifestyle,
Exercise must fit with yoga
The world is a dangerous place

Stay away from me if you disagree,
Some think that I’m angry in my passion,
I know that my way is most healthy
And everything else
Is killing you.

Schools are stress factories.
They breed germs,
The testing makes no sense,
The homework is wearing the kids out,
The lunches are inedible.
The sports are dangerous.

The arts are it.
PE could be better.

Perspectives: 14/365

Grace Watts (School Aide)

They have it so well,
The teachers.
They get to work and have benefits,
But they don’t do nearly as much as I do.

I cover Study Hall,
Try that everyday, hundreds of kids screaming,
Sitting where they are not supposed to, and
Leaving trash everywhere.

The teachers live a life of luxury,
Vacations, contracts, and a pension.
I see what goes on here
And if the public knew, heads would roll.

I tell my husband all the time
That he should have been a teacher
Instead of a construction worker.
He’s too dumb to understand. He takes care of us, though.

I would have been a teacher
If it wasn’t for marrying him.
I stayed home to raise the kids,
Then took this on to help pay some bills.

They’re in high school now,
Not in Taylorville, across the way in the United School District.
It’s better there, the teachers are good,
I guess, I don’t really know since I’m not there.

Here, though, it’s like I tell my husband,
These teachers have no control.
And the kids,
I can’t believe they’re allowed in school.

Perspectives: 12/365

Robert Woods (A Local Dude)

The other day I was sitting in a cool coffee shop,
Ethiopian java flowed from a beaker
And I stirred it with a little spoon
To keep the flavor just right.

The window seats were open,
So I sat with my photography book, Ansel,
And read while watching the foot traffic
All turn into this very cool coffee shop.

A group of moms came in
Three went to order
With the fourth taking the seats
Behind me.

They were in prime eavesdropping distance,
Not that proximity mattered,
They were loud
Like they had just left a rock concert.

And they could talk,
The four of them were talking at once
Each involved in all of the conversations
As full participants.

They were unhappy, too.
Their husbands wanted sex too much,
Their jobs as moms were never ending,
Their nails were hideous.

There weren’t fans of the schools either.
Two were mad at teachers,
One hated her son’s coach,
And the other laughed as her kids were out of school

She didn’t like the district
When her kids were there either.
The general consensus being,
School is annoying.

Perspectives: 11/365

Robert Woods (A Local Dude)

I moved to Taylorville
Before the cool restaurants came in.
I just liked the old architecture,
How close it is to I-95.

I’ve stayed single,
I don’t want any children,
I like driving a bus, and
Have enough of everything that I need.

I go to the trendy Taylorville haunts
Listening to what is happening around town.
These people, who have so much,
Waste as much energy complaining about everything.

I love being an observer,
Hearing the gossip. Does anybody like anybody?
It’s hard to tell when they talk about schools.
There’s so much to report…

Perspectives: 10/365

Issues do not exist by themselves
They are manifested
From the depths of egotistical entreaties,
From people.

The issues of Taylorville’s identity
Rested less with the economy,
The political tumult of the United States,
Or the smell of the mushrooms and
More from the aches
Caused by the need to control,
The want to be someone, or
Insecurities buoyed by pontoons of doubt.

Once brought into the open,
Issues must be dealt with,
But whose hubris has the answers?
Someone. No, everyone and no one.

Perspectives: 9/365

Polarized perspectives lead to divided loyalties.
In the case of the of small towns
The schools are there for everyone
Although, everything is not there to all.

The pettiness,
The disinterest,
The lost opportunities
Existing in larger settings, affect schools just the same.

Perhaps it is human nature to align with a cause,
To join the things most interesting to us.
Maybe the propensity of people to ridicule
Comes with our tendency to dismiss that not like us.

And what a shame that is.

For the nation…
For small towns…
For schools…

Perspectives: 8/365

The relationship of a community
To its schools
Is as cliquey as the groups of students
In the schools.

Parents follow their children
Dropping support in the forms
Of time, money, and presence
At whatever the events are.

For a few, it is the stage,
For the majority,
It’s music and sports,
Distant cousins at best.

Truth is, there is only a real difference,
Band kids practice their craft for hours,
Sports kids practice their craft for hours,
Both sets of parents wait around for hours.

But too many band kids
See athletes as low brow jocks who know nothing but brawn,
While too many sports kids
See the band as a bunch of geeks toting expensive instruments.

Parents of either get lost in the stereotypes
Furthering the angst,
Establishing lines of competition
Played out in the arena of social networking.

The rivalry is probably as old as sports and music,
Jealousy and arrogance ruling both sides of the fight,
It’s too bad really,
For communities could be more if they just get along.

Perspectives: 6/365

As the machine keeps going
What is there to look forward to?
The first day of school?
Puberty?
Graduation?
College?
Jobs?
Marriage?
Grandkids?
Death?

Maybe all of those,
But who really can live
Only looking towards the milestones of life.
They are bumps on life’s continuum
That are nothing more the tally marks
On prison walls.

What then?
Small town identities…
Schools…
Of what,
For what,
Whosie what.

Schools offer sanctuaries
For souls needing identities.
Far beyond the academics
Are the social structures
Where kids find like minds
Testing the norms of friendships,
Creating the balance between group identities and stereotypes
Battling the war of tolerance and tribal acceptance,
Schools bring disparate people together
Letting them get to know that we are not so different
If only we see acceptance of our differences and
The need to learn how differences encourage growth,
That we are not some Internet logarithm,
Predictable, patterned, and programmable.

Schools are temples for learning.
Learning is necessary for growth.
Growth brings people together.

Small town schools are more than academic factories.
They are places where clubs allow for greater exposure
To stuff that might be more interesting
Than the latest standardized test
Or article proclaiming the rigorous machinations of education.
They are places were extracurricular activities like band and sports
Promote fellowship through accomplishments
Of a different sort than an A+ and GPAs can ever understand.

Schools are not factories or machines.
They are places with a heart,
If only the richness of the non-book stuff
Is viewed with a proper perspective.

Perspectives: 4/365

Yet no one ever really gets mad at the mushrooms,
They kind of just exist.
There is the steam rising from the blockhouses
Cooking the soil and killing the bacteria
That will cause blotch to ravage the fungus,
There is the steam rising from the soil
That stinks to high heaven,
And there are the trucks that drag mud all over the place,
But the mushrooms are sacred,
They are the life of this little town,
For without the shiitakes, the portobellos, and the other varieties being developed
People would have no reason to be in Taylorville.

Except for the schools,
The venerable Taylor High School with it’s connections to the one-percenters,
The middle school, a palace built in the farthest regions of the district,
And three elementary schools, teaching the same ages,
But very different in their reputations and demographics.
The schools of Taylorville bring everyone together,
For better or worse,
As kids grow up with the same kids
So parents see the same parents
They get to know each other,
Sometimes as friends, other times just through sight recognition,
Their grayness and wrinkles sprouting just as the mushrooms in the hot soil.