A friend of a friend opened his stupid facehole the other day and the garbagewater that spilled out was, “Ugh, you live in Gloucester? The schools are so SHITTY there.” It took a lot of effort to not just throw myself on the floor and roll around yelling insults.
The schools aren’t shitty here. They’re not even CLOSE to shitty. Can we just stop with this dumb myth? I admit, that when I first had a baby and knew no one here, I’d heard that the schools were a mess. I believed it because I didn’t really know any better – and I was pregnant during the “pregnancy pact” bullshit. But oh my sweet crap on a cracker, was I wrong.
The singular data point you need to believe me on this was this weekend’s Gloucester Educational Fund arts festival downtown. Lured in by the promise of robotics and my kid’s art, I showed up – and was BLOWN AWAY. I’m a huge supporter of GEF, although my grinding, ceaseless near-poverty precludes me from donating to them all the money I wish I could.
Although it had a ton of amazing arts turnout (including a multitude of bands, and the EGS Ukulele concert!) what really took the cake for me (because nerd) was the robotics program. As you may know, we here at the Clam were a part of the Great 3D Printer Build last year, where the GEF purchased almost 30 3D printers and we all spent a weekend assembling them and then went delirious at the end from lack of sleep and that fucking clearly stoned guy trying to explain the assembly in a series of aggravating Youtube videos.
Anyway, the HS robotics club had some amazing interactive exhibits that truly showed how above average our Engineering program is. Like, with remote control tanks.
One of the things Maggie Rosa tracked me down to make sure I saw was the sand installation. “A sandbox with stuff projected on it – interesting!” I thought. UNTIL I SAW IT. The sandbox is two 3d cameras that take real-time height information from the kids making hills and valleys in the sand, sends that info to a laptop, that turns it into a real-live topographical map that is projected back onto the sand via overhead projector. High school students made this! HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS MADE THIS.
The presentation by the robotics kids and teacher Kurt Lichtenwald was pretty dang impressive. It had ping pong balls, homemade guitars, and of course, drones.
Turns out Gloucester High has one of the top engineering departments in the goddamn state. Kids are getting into WPI with no problems because they’re involved in our engineering programs.
Gloucester’s future is technology. The Clam wholeheartedly believes this (and not just because we’re epic super nerds). We’re doing amazing things, and our kids are going to be rock stars if we play this right. GEF is a huge part of this, as well as handfuls of amazing, dedicated, forward-thinking people. Our kids? They’re gonna be just fine.
And the schools are great. So STFU and enjoy it, instead of complaining.
…and don’t forget to send that check to GEF!
Having worked in the Gloucester School System for two years at GHS, I have to concur that the teaching staff I worked with, no, “team” is a better word, are truly world class educators. I lost tenure when I transferred to GHS, and after two years was eliminated due to budget cuts, but it was a gamble I was willing to take in order to work in the town I live in, and help to positively impact our collective youth. I no longer work here, but still live here, and every day I am thankful for having been a part of a great team of more than dedicated professionals. Did you know that the Robotics students from GHS recently won 3rd in the world in competition against other schools AND universities? Or did you know that a technology curriculum developed by the science department in Technical Education is now being incorporated in the Northeastern University School of Graduate Studies? Not a bad record! And the GEF has definitely aided the District in many, many ways. Way to go, KT. Spot on! BTW, my sig’s son graduated from GHS, then as Valedictorian from Colby College, received his MS from UC Santa Barbara, and will be working on his PhD in Mathematics beginning this fall at Yale. There are MANY success stories like this from our former students. If there is anything wrong with our schools, it is in administrative management and funding, which is not a local problem by any means…not many towns have much money to drop on education these days. Consider yourselves, and your students/children, lucky.
I work with the Gloucester Public Schools on a daily basis, and the reading support at the Elementary level is phenomenal. When we find academic deficiencies we work as a team to correct them. Other districts often pretend not to see issues, and hope kids will outgrow them. I have seen a drastic improvement in the past ten years in the schools and look forward to the future.
My daughter was one of 50 or so students sent last summer to participate at the one week MIT summer engineering camp; courtesy of GEF. For students to have this type of enthusiasm to continue learning after a very long school year is a tribute to our dedicated teachers.