RAVE: Let's hear it for the volunteers
Our little town is chockablock full of dedicated volunteers trying to make this little corner of Rhode Island a nice place to live.
Just off the top of my head, there are:
- The East Greenwich Downtown Planning Initiative, otherwise known as the folks that bring you the farmer’s market at Academy, the fall outdoor movie, the information kiosks on Main Street and a dozen other worthwhile projects.
- The Friends of East Greenwich Free Library, a new committee who recently presented a town program of Stuntology and will put on the book sale in May.
- The Summer Arts & Festival Organization, aka the Summer’s End people – though they are also responsible for supporting artistic ventures throughout the year.
- The Cultural Organization of the Arts who bring performance arts to the public schools.
- The folks who are trying to save the Odeum.
- The East Greenwich Education Foundation, who are working with our school teachers to enrich the students’ educational experience; the numerous school PTGs.
- The East Greenwich-Cowesett New Neighbors Club, a social organization whose sole purpose is to aid new residents in becoming acquainted with the community and their new neighborhood. How cool is that?.
- The East Greenwich Arts Festival, who will be putting on what will hopefully be an annual art show starting this September.
- And – gasp - many, many more groups that (honestly) I know less about - such as the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the Historical Society and so on
Full disclosure: I am on the board/committee of the Cultural Organization of the Arts, The Summer Arts and Festival Organization and the Cultural Organization of the Arts.
So what’s my point? The next time you start moaning that there is nothing happening in this town or nothing going on, shut the door! If there is nothing in my long list that tickles your fancy, I am sure that people will add their pet projects that I missed out (sorry!) in the comments section.
Or start your own group. The potential is here and the opportunity is here. We are lucky to have in Bill Sequino a receptive town manager and council as well Cathy Bradley as our open-minded Parks and Recreation department head – both of whom are unusually accessible and supportive of residents who want to get involved.
RANT: Let's Here It For The Teachers, Too
I am tired of hearing that the teachers in our town – or any town, for that matter, are overpaid, overrepresented and underworked.
We say that we want a competitive school system. We say that our kids are important and that their education is a valuable investment. And then we say that the people in charge of fulfilling our first two wishes are overpaid and overcompensated in benefits and time off.
Yes, there are bad teachers. There are bad apples in every profession – even politics. But the one thing I know for sure is this: Teaching is hard work. My mother was a teacher and many a night – long after the afternoon bell had run – she would still be preparing her lesson plans to keep things interesting and intellectually engaging for her students. If she ever took the time to break down her pay to an hourly wage, it would barely have qualified as minimum.
There are many teachers who are forced to take a second job just to make ends meet (Breaking Bad, anyone?). The other thing I know is this: Unless we put our money and support where our mouths are, we will never attract talented young people to the profession.
Given the right support, a teacher can turn a kid's life around. A teacher can negotiate the tough paths teenagers face, show them options, talents, passions. A teacher can inspire a child to be virtually anything, anyone. A teacher can open a child's eyes, sometimes literally, but more often to possibilities the child would never imagine alone. A teacher can give kids what they don't get at home, for whatever reason. A teacher can show kids that life is full of joy, that there is humor in everything, that people are full of love and hope and things they'd never imagine without a helping hand. A teacher can unlock mysteries, open doors kids never knew existed.
How can you put a price tag on that?