Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

The Difference a School Can Make

vonzastrowc's picture

Yesterday I spent the morning at Viers Mill Elementary School In Maryland. You might know the school. President Obama paid it an unexpected visit a couple of weeks ago. If ever you want to renew your spirits in these dismal days, visit a school like Viers Mill. Those teachers and kids knocked my socks off.

We've published a lot of public school success stories on this website. But it's another thing altogether to see one of these schools in action. The school is certainly impressive on paper. Almost half the students are still learning English. Most are from low-income families. And almost all students score proficient or better on Maryland state assessments.

But come to Viers Mill, and you'll see enthusiastic children, a passionate staff, gleaming hallways festooned with student work. You'll see teachers collaborating with each other--and other school staff--to meet individual students' needs. You'll see a school that has made itself a national exemplar without firing its staff or importing outside talent.  You'll see a singular devotion to children.

We'll be publishing much more on Viers Mill in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to stress an important point. Viers Mill makes an enormous difference in the lives of children. We strongly support policies that address students' needs outside of schools: better health care, after-school programs, help for families, etc. Such policies actually help children succeed in school, and schools that serve our most vulnerable children need all the help they can get. 

But don't believe those who say such arguments are defeatist. No one can diminish the incredible accomplishments of families, staff and students at Viers Mill. I'd send my own daughter there in a minute.

So go visit a school like Viers Mill. You'll be glad you did.

Thanks for the inspiring

Thanks for the inspiring story. If President Obama pays a visit to Veirs Mill, then why is he spending all his time on charters and performance pay?

If President Obama is

If President Obama is spending all his time with charter schools, why would he be at Viers Mill? Just a thought in response to KVC. Nevertheless, what a great and inspiring story. If kids throughout our nation were as enthusiastic and the teachers were as involved and we all recieved the support of our local governments, what an awesome thing that would be.

It is always exciting to hear

It is always exciting to hear about a school that has overcome obstacles and still is very successful.

Nice heartwarming story!

Nice heartwarming story! Every school should be this way! Awesome and thanks for sharing this...

It is always great to see

It is always great to see stories like this and also that President Obama sees how successful these schools can be.

A very inspiring article. I

A very inspiring article. I guess the students are the reflection of the teachers. Keep up your good work and I am very impressed with your dedication.

When the teachers are really

When the teachers are really concerned about their students, the performance of the students will improve.

Next article should be, the

Next article should be, the difference a decent teacher can make