Vermillion is the best community in South Dakota with the best schools in the state. Let me tell you why.
Last Friday was the final day of the 2022-23 school year in the Vermillion School District.
I’m sure for many kids, it was a celebratory time. I know when my friends and I were kids, the thoughts running through our minds on the last day of class all closely resembled the immortal words of Alice Cooper, who sings in his hit song “School’s Out”:
“School's out for summer
School's out forever
I'm bored to pieces
No more pencils, no more books
No more teachers, dirty looks
Out for summer, out 'til fall
We might not come back at all”
Over the weekend, a local woman who is a Facebook friend wrote about her son and how his last day of school at Jolley Elementary here in Vermillion ended in … tears.
It wasn’t because he had been picked on by a bully on the playground.
And it wasn’t because he had a best friend who was moving away, now that school was over, and would never see again.
It was because of his teacher (and forget the above reference to dirty looks).
This Vermillion mom wrote about it on Facebook, and she gave me permission to share her words here. She states:
“Last day of 5th grade and Jolley School. His (her son’s) teacher Mrs. Sully wrote 26 letters to every student in her class telling them she was grateful they were in her class, praising them for their traits, and recalling the special memories she has of them.”
It also appears that each of her students received a gift bag filled with a “survival kit.” In bright letters and graphics is a printed list attached to the outside of the bag, explaining one of the best ways to remember each little gift.
“Here are a CUPple things for you …” the list begins:
Bubbles: Don’t let anyone burst your BUBBLE!
Pencil: There is always more to learn.
Eraser: ERASE all the doubts you have, and remember, it is okay to make mistakes.
Bookmark: The more you read, the smarter (smarter is printed in bold) you become!
Gatorade: Quench (again, in bold) your thirst for knowledge.
Airhead Xtremes: Remember, I am XTREMELY proud of you and how hard you worked this year! Always try your best!
Have a POPPIN’ summer!”
There was one more thing included in the gift bag: A handwritten note from Mrs. Sully with a unique, personal message. This mom shared a photo of the note her son received. It begins: “I am so grateful you were in my class this year!”
She continues by describing the traits she loves the most about this student who she has just had to tell goodbye to and about her favorite moment of the school year made possible by him.
“Thank you for always working hard!” Mrs. Sully writes. “You will do great in middle school! Have a great summer!”
The mom continues on Facebook:
“Do any other parents sometimes think: “Maaaan, I think my kiddo’s teacher is a better parent than I am!”
She adds that her son said “his whole class and his teacher cried when they had to say goodbye. And he cried when he told me about it. This tough-appearing tween who won’t let me touch him in public because tween.
And I’ve heard similar stories from other parents about how bittersweet and special the last day of school was for their kiddos.
I know it’s not all sweet letters and survival kits.
But the care, concern and knowledge teachers, staff & coaches share with their students is so impactful.
From our family to yours, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU.
We hope you have a restful and kick-ass summer. You’ve beyond earned it. (And you deserve more pay and support.)
Last note: Mrs. Sully made 26 of these. And each bag got 2 ribbons. I’m not a teacher, but I think that’s 52 ribbons. The care and concern!
Well, now I’m crying.”
One of the ways South Dakota measures the quality of education in the state is through what’s called the School Performance Index and Accountability Report Card. It measures things like student performance, multi-year proficiency and current year proficiency.
All of that data is boiled downed into Student Performance Points which are awarded based on a school’s performance over the course of three years for ELA (English Language Arts) and math.
It’s all important stuff to know if you’re in the business of administering a state school system or a local school district. There are other statistical factors that are important, too. Standardized test scores, for example.
Some things are much more difficult to measure, however. That doesn’t mean they’re less important.
Imagine if we could count the number of tears shed by kids (and their teachers) in our community last Friday — kids who realized one of the best times of learning and adventure, of wonder and permanently piqued curiosity — was about to end because, of all reasons, the school year ended along with that nearly one-on-one relationship five days a week with a special teacher.
Imagine if you could collect that special set of data and illustrate it through a bar graph or something (by now I bet you’ve guessed I know nothing about statistics or data management).
I know what those charts and graphs would show:
Vermillion is the best community in South Dakota with the best schools in the state.
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