Archive for December, 2011

The not so “secrets of the garden”- Lorain- Part one


My mind and therefore my brain is in another place these past days – I had hoped to be able to “write” over the weekend thoughts of solutions or at least a beginning for Lorain City Schools …….. but the emotional puddle that I am has left no room for logic- therefore I have taken a walk in the garden… if anyone would like to guest blog their thoughts on LCS contact me …….

In the past three or so years- the volunteers and supporters of Charleston Village had added two new green spaces to this old neighborhood.

One is Settlers’ Watch corner of Oberlin Avenue and 2nd Street.
When visitors walk around the carvings and view the plants and wildflowers – some say weeds :) they may not realize that in the seemingly lack of design ( tall at the back and lack of theme planting) the plants are actually there BY DESIGN- there are special plants for special people and reasons:
Earlier in the year we made a game out of some of the puzzles of Settlers’ Watch- Lisa from Buster’s Momma Blog- Buster’s House followed through with the 8 clues over the spring and summer .

Here are the clues:

1. Your journey of discovery begins with this clue:
From France they came and gave a Queen to Lorain

2.Don’t tread on Me! (as seen in the Garden of Eden and now in Settlers’ Watch)

3.As seen at Irving (School) , now this part of an eye blooms in a children’s garden.

4.Its family member is the pride of Scotland
but this prickly plant needs to emigrate from Settlers’ Watch.

5. Ah wistful and hysteria combined make this vine a bloomin good time

6. A tale of two vines:this one could literally blow its own horn
and the fruit of which fills the gap of women and song ( two for one ;)

7. In the garden is a flower of light planted recalling an Asian flight

8. Sunlight = night light

You can find the photo answers here.
I will expand upon the secrets of Settlers’ Watch and the reasons for the plants in the next post in the series-

Yes seems like this blog is becoming a series of series!

December 12, 2011 at 12:12 am 2 comments

The way of white….. Chris Ritchey

I have watched the dawn break once more this morning- not with rosy pink clouds but with a softening of white- the first snow brings with it heartache magnified.

I will be letting the schools series perk over the weekend as I am dealing with an avalanche of emotions… Loraine

December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm 9 comments

Lorain City Schools- what will it take Lorain?- the emails

It is apparent to me just how uncomfortable people are to “speak” – it is a fact – and considering on this December 7th – I am reminded how dear the cost paid for the right to speak freely and yet …………………

However, I have put down some of the questions / observations that have come directly to my personal inbox.


- ‘sharing’ rather than ‘reporting’ to the public honestly about all general fund monies and how they are spent. Sharing with the public regarding all grants, and why they ‘match’ goals for our school district…if not apply for one that does. (in order to that the district should have ‘clear’ goals- first, then apply for grants and have programs that support those things).


This ‘could’ be a time to start over and ‘rebuild’- honest dialogue , painful though it may be .


I have been informed there are “empty classrooms in some locations ( Masson?) while some teachers have no teaching space- if true, someone from Charleston needs to walk through these building and take inventory.


When the ‘cuts’ occur how will this happen. Will some programs be ‘gutted’ to save others in their ‘entirety’?


Will special community interest groups continue to have favoritism?


Shouldn’t we try to instill a “love of reading” rather than reading to a test?


The schools keep asking for more money . I just don’t have the money! Stop trying to blackmail me using the students!


Too many problems to be fixed any time soon and under Dr. Atkinson too much micromanaging. The morale at Charleston was very low. Ask a question and you would be seen as an “enemy”.


How many of the new school building have leaks and problems?



to be continued ………

December 7, 2011 at 11:41 am 4 comments

Lorain City Schools- What will it take- The Ugly (My Ugly)

Part One – The GOOD

Part Two – The BAD

I have said for many years that I am a surface dweller when it came to the “business” of Lorain City Schools. Why?

I live in Lorain- lived across the street from a “neighborhood school”- had two children that needed to be educated- I was and am still an “involved” parent – and yet I know very little about Lorain City Schools. So what happened that someone with that curriculum vitæ becomes a surface dweller?

Lorain City Schools happened! I won’t go in-depth as to situations but a short history. AND as usual there are names, witnesses to all events mentioned.


My daughter and her little friends crossed the street every morning to go to “their school”, Irving – all was well – through kindergarten until 2nd grade. The little “girls” who lived on this street and played Barbie’s and Strawberry Shortcake started not wanting to go to school- two even developed stomach issues and would stand crying by the fire hydrant every morning as they lined up to go. They went to Dr.s and finally it was determined they were just plain scared to go to school.

It was a long detective story, finding mothers standing outside and under the open window of the classroom to eventually find the problem. The “teaching style” of their 2nd grade teacher including accidental hairpulling when “her ” bracelets kept getting entangled with the children’s hair. The three little girls were scared they too would become the victim of the bracelet and her wrath.

The mothers met with the principal – the issue was not addressed the “swept under the carpet” and the “blathering”
“children misunderstand – great teacher yada- yada- yada”.

We, the mothers, handled our children’s fear in alternative ways but the damage was done. I used wonder what happened to those children who didn’t have mothers who stood guard. Eventually two of the little girls left the LCS system.

2. My son also crossed the street and went to Irving- 2nd grade he was found to have a reading problem but there was a solution- they had a lovely grant for a special “reading” program. I watched, attended conferences and his reports were showing improvement by being in the program- leaps and bounds.

This program continued when LCS moved the neighborhood kids to other schools. My son went to Lakeview – where the infamous 2nd grade teacher had transferred- to the 3rd grade ( of course even though I met with the principal and said – I don’t wish the teacher to be involved with my son- well you guessed it he came home and I said who is your teacher???????- ignored again and more meetings with the school!

3. HYPE The dismantling of the neighborhood school for magnet programs – In my other life I was extremely involved with theatre and dance – I went to the open house for the “arts program”. I was dismayed at what was being “touted” – I knew too much

One person recently, whose children had gone through that program, said to me _ Oh it was wonderful my child gained so much- but as I said :

“And just what did you or they have to compare it with?

“Bubble Gum ballet” and “community theatre” hardly equate to “training in the arts”.

I am not being an art’s snob here -just stating a fact – there is and was a difference- the arts program that I saw that first couple of years before I “left” Lorain City Schools was amateurish at best.So I decided NOT to camp out in a parking lot and leave my daughter where she was across the street.

ED NOTE: Things may have changed later on in the program – I know one or two people who went on having discovered the love of theatre in those “pods” but what happened eventually to the programs???

4. SAFETY CONCERNS 3rd Grade Lakeview- the fact for a week the Lorain City Schools system bussed the children of this street and lost them, didn’t pick them up at the corner they stated they should be or the time – it was a mess- put them on wrong busses drove them all over town. Mothers were frantically calling for that one week trying to sort things out and the buck kept getting passed- kids were blamed – parents blamed – the problem was not addressed. The children suffered that week, nothing was done to alleviate their fears. It was once again the child that paid the price whilst the “professionals tried to get it right”

In fact, after trying to drop my son off by Lorain Community Hospital a small riot broke out on the bus- my 3rd grader Chris – refused to get off the bus until they took him and his friend Michael to his house . As I was on the phone to the Superintendent at nearly 5 o’clock demanding to know where my child was, when a bus load of screaming, crying neighborhood children drew up outside my house- I held the phone out the window so they could “listen” to those children and what they had done- finally something was done but . Michael never rode a bus again, transferred out to a system where his daddy worked – and I drove my son to Lakeview.
The case of the live ammunition 3rd grade Lakeview once again – a husband banging the hell out of the washing machine which was “stuck” because of something that was caught- it was a bullet in fact more than one that had fallen out of my son’s pockets apparently -( who thinks to check for live ammunition in the pockets of a third grader?)

” my friend gave it to me at recess “

Obviously we went to the school,because the concern was – if a 3rd grader had access to live ammunition what about the gun that went with it.
I was fobbed off with a speech about

home conditions etc etc. parents not there, complaint could be seen as discriminatory due ethnic background, we are at the beginning of court ordered desegregation, this could be seen as detrimental to the process-yada yada yada….

Actually looking back I don’t know WHY I didn’t make more of an issue but my husband was all for letting the school handle it.

Of course this was also the time that “gangs” were coming into the schools in a big way and that too was being ignored. Living in this neighborhood you tend to know what is happening. The community was placated with

“oh! just harmless wanna be’s”

…we knew better we watched the “after school fights” on 6th 5th and 7th! Painted over the gang graffiti – I actually spent one afterschool protecting some kids in the middle of 4th street whilst waiting for the police – standing up to these “wanna be’s”

We jump ahead -LCS moved the kids back again from Lakeview to Irving. My daughter had by this time left Lorain City Schools- the children of her neighborhood went to other schools, some within the system and others outside the system.

Unfortunately, the children she had been left to attend class with were unruly, disruptive and many had problems. It took a lot to get my husband to agree to send her to the new junior high class opening up at Lorain Catholic High School. We weren’t Catholic- we weren’t wealthy but after a few disturbing incidents he agreed.
My daughter had been an A student but tested in and was C at LCHS and had to do extra work to “catch up”.

In the meantime Chris ( now in 5th grade at Irving) was being “attacked” at school – Chris had a temper and a strength belied by his appearance at the time . I was frightened HE would be the one doing the damage. But after I literally stood and watched two eighth grade “yobos” attack my son in front of me . I told him do what you have to do- he did and HE got detention but they didn’t touch him again.

Ignoring the situation until it escalated to a point where a child paid the price again

In the 5th grade, 5.5 to be exact, I was very concerned about Chris’ reading ( knowing he too would be going to LCHS) although his reports gave him solid C’s and B’s I was worried- Nikki an A student going to a C at LCHS -what would happen to my C student? I didn’t realize that grant driven programs had to show positive results to receive further funding – my son was being passed through- I took Chris to be tested privately :

In Grade 5.5 Chris tested as having a reading level he was reading at a grade 1.2 level… comprehension 2.5. vocabulary 4.9

We also found out that his temper was also part of the problem he felt “stupid”- why? because a grant driven program had to “show results” (that is my opinion anyway) and a child was the price- For three years Chris went to a tutor to “catch up” at our expense .

Now you know why I am a surface dwellerI left Lorain City Schools- You could say this is ancient history of past administrations etc. etc. BUT as I see it – we are still dealing with the same problems I dealt with when I was “involved”

“hype – disconnect- ignoring problems – dependent on grants – lack of thinking out the repercussions of one’s actions , and parents who care leaving the system “


Worrying to me is how many children slipped through the cracks in the years of “low scores”. How many children were the victim of stats ………..and those stats work both ways – because the mothers that “walked ” took with them not only their children but LCS has also lost the grandchildren.

Well that is MY UGLY What is YOURS? How can we fix this ?


December 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm 22 comments

December 3rd- Chris Ritchey- “yesterday”

It seems as though it was just yesterday -the day of your passing – funny word -yesterday-from Old English 5th century- ( mixture of english and norse) a time before- before today

I have cried everyday of the yesterdays at the loss you, my eyes are sore, always swollen from the weeping of you and I will cry today as my heart continues to break. My will to go on is battered and blown by a grief that seemingly knows no ending. I stagger emotionally through my days – stand roooted- imobile – whilst all around me a world of todays rushes past- soundbites of life, colours, voices sometimes penetrating the world of tears. The hurt has not eased no matter the passing of yesterdays.

The yesterdays blend with today and become tomorrow- one hour folds into the next and a life in the parallel universe goes on …..

Last night I dreamt – I dreamt that you died and my mind reeled and fought such a dreadful nightmare, then I awoke and I realized it was but a dream and you were coming in the door as usual with your smile and lazy walk. I ran up to you rushed with the relief at the site of you -

Oh! Chris, I had such a terrible dream – I dreamt you died-

you laughed, patted me on top of my head and you said

“silly woman”, what have you got to eat?” -

I hugged you, I was so relieved and happy , heard your heart beat as I did so and breathed……….. only to wake from my moment of joy and relief to the truth once again…..The pain of yesterday …………..


Childhood living is easy to do

The things you wanted

I bought them for you

Graceless lady

You know who I am

You know I can’t let you slide through my hand

Wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away

I watched you suffer
A dull aching pain
Now you’ve decided
To show me the same

No sweeping exits
Or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter
Or treat you unkind

Wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away

I know I’ve dreamed you
A sin and a lie I have my freedom
But I don’t have much time

Faith has been broken
Tears must be cried
Let’s do some living
After we die

And Wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away

Wild Horses
Songwriters: Richards, K;Jagger,M.

December 3, 2011 at 12:05 am 15 comments

Lorain City Schools Endowment Funds for Enhancing Education


Because no public funding is involved, and because the endowment fund is part of the community foundation and not the school district, records are not subject to public records requests.

Lorain City Schools Endowment Funds for Enhancing Education

Most school districts in Lorain County have endowment funds through The Community Foundation of Lorain County. School districts have done this to provide ways to increase the learning opportunities for their students. Lorain City Schools was the first district in the United States to create an endowment fund through a community foundation.

Here is how the Lorain City Schools endowment funds work:

1. There are two funds, one for general education and one for fine arts. The Stocker Foundation provided the initial funding for the fine arts fund.

2. Gifts to the funds qualify for itemized tax deductions

3. All monies are the permanent property of the foundation, not the school district.

4. The foundation, under the oversight of its board, manages the funds.

5. Funds are accessed a small management fee. The majority of the funds are invested and a portion of the investment returns is distributed annually through the school endowment board.

6. The endowment board is made up of Lorain citizens plus the superintendent and one school board member. The school board has no authority over the endowment board and cannot gain control of the money. Endowment funds are not public funds. They come from private donors.

7. Each year teachers write grant proposals for projects that enhance the learning experiences of their students. The endowment board reviews all proposals and the selects the proposals that will receive funding.

8. Funds can only be used to supplement, but not supplant (replace) the district’s general fund expenditures. Without the endowment funding the projects would not be possible. No public money is involved.

9. Teachers awarded grants must provide a report to the endowment board once the project is completed.

10. The community foundation requires a full report each year on how endowment fund monies are used.

Over the years gifts to the endowment funds have been made in honor of, or in memory of, the donors’ friends, or relatives. Students have benefited by taking part in projects that would not have been possible without the endowment grants. Projects include field trips, live stage productions and many other unique activities.

If you have additional questions, or are interested in becoming a endowment fund donor, please contact me.

Jim Smith

December 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

Newer Posts

Recent Comments


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 136 other followers

December 2011
« Nov   Jan »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 136 other followers