Thursday, June 14, 2012

On my children's education...

This blog post is not genealogy related.  I'm sorry to disappoint my genealogy readers, but this is just one of those days when something else is on my mind, invading my thoughts, and overwhelming me that I simply need to get it out of my system.  Lucky for you, that involves jotting my thoughts via this blog.

Let me say first of all, I love the small town that I live in.  And actually, I don't necessarily even really believe it's a small town.  I grew up in a REALLY small town...an INSANELY small town.  But where I live now has a small town feel to it.  I can walk comfortably from my house to the library, or up to the corner ice cream stand...and probably pass more than a handful of people that I know personally to have a quick hello and conversation with.  Our kids probably go to school together at the local elementary.  This is why I live where I do.  I love this town, and I love my kids' school.

The elementary school where 2 of my kids go reminds me so much of the school that I grew up in, and in the past 8 years since we moved here and sent our oldest off to the school for pre-K, I've gotten to know pretty much most of the staff that is over there.  My oldest is now at the middle school, but my youngest is only finishing up kindergarten...I still have 5 more years to continue growing with our little school!

I've heard it described as "the gem of the community".  I believe that to be an accurate description.  When asked where I live, and I respond that I'm in Hamburg, near Charlotte Avenue, the immediate response is, "Oh!  Great little school!"  or "You're so lucky to be able to send your kids there!" It's not a wealthy school.  It's not a state of the art brand new school.  It's your typical neighborhood, family-friendly school building whose kids and parents take great pride in being a part of.

All this to say, this amazing elementary school is also part of a larger system.  A system that consists of 3 other surrounding elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school that form our school district.  A school district in a town I love, but a school district that is slowly killing themselves at the risk of our children's education.

The other night I went to my first school board meeting.  I've wanted to go before now, but (lame excuse time) either I wasn't really that interested at the time, or once I did become interested there were schedule conflicts that prevented me from attending.  But this meeting I had marked on my calendar, I made certain that there were no conflicting plans with the family, and I was determined to be there.

I sit here still in dismay and disbelief at what I witnessed.

This was the last meeting before there begins an ever so slight "shift" with a new school board member coming on next month.  Perhaps also a new school board president.  This was also the first meeting since our community passed our school board's proposed budget.  A budget that cuts staff, which effects programs, which effects our kids.  I knew all of this going in.  So why was I still surprised?

I choose to send my children to public school because deep down I really do believe in public education.  I will always believe in it.  A private education is not an option for my family, and neither is home-schooling.  I pay school taxes either way, and I am a parent who believes that the money I pay should directly affect my child's education in a positive manner.

As a parent and as a member of this community, I have chosen to become informed and become involved in my child's education.  I can no longer sit by and assume that the individuals this community has elected to serve on the school board will make the best decisions for my children's education.  This school board needs to be held accountable and I, for one, intend to be someone they will have to answer to for their choices.

C.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Search for Alex Perry

Imagine with me...you've moved to a new state, city, home....starting a new life.  Exciting, right?

Now imagine with me that upon moving into your new home, you come across a little..."surprise" in your new living space.


Okay...so it's not exactly the typical house-warming gift that one might expect.  And yet, it's exactly what was found when my brother moved into his home near Waco, Texas.

Knowing that his sister spends an excessive amount of time wandering around cemeteries looking for ancestors never personally known, as well as others who have passed who aren't even related....well, of course I got the call alerting me to their home discovery...which led me to the challenge of trying to discover who Alex Perry was and why in the world was his headstone sitting at my brother's home?

I have located a death certificate, I have located census records for Alex and his family from 1920 and 1910, as well as 1930 and 1940 for his wife after his death.  I have also located his wife's death certificate and found them listed in the some of the Waco city directories.  However, I have lost him in 1900.  His place of birth has been listed as Kentucky and Louisiana, at one point I got lucky and located he and his mother living with a white man and I seem to recall she had reported herself as a widow.  But I didn't save that record.  Why didn't I save that record?  I'm kicking myself now for not saving that record.  Because, of course, now I can't locate the record no matter how or where I search.  (I know, there's a genealogy lesson to be learned there.  Trust me.  I've learned it.)

So to all random genealogy friends who are reading this - Alex Perry, born May 10, 1862, died September 1923.  He was married to Mary, and was the son of Alex and Bettie Perry.  He was buried at Liberty Hill Cemetery in McLennan County, Texas - a quick glimpse at a map showed me that this is in close proximity to my brother's home.  It still doesn't explain how the stone ended up where it did, but at least it seems rational.

I would like to find more of his "story" and when I am able to travel to the Lone Star state next summer, I'd like to see his stone placed back where it belongs with a little bit of knowledge about his life.

Feel free to do some searching on your own and leave your findings here as a comment or email me at cditkowski@verizon.net  

C.