GUEST OPINION: Doyle Park school is more than test scores

  • Doyle Park Elementary School Principal Kaesa Enemark rallys her charges to take cover under an awning as they wait for a bus after school during a downpour on Jan. 20. A plan is being floated to possibly close the school at the end of the school year. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

This is in response to the Saturday story about the possible closure of Santa Rosa's Doyle Park Elementary School.

As a retired administrator of a publicly funded child development center on a college campus, I am well aware of fiscal accountability and achievement outcomes.

Unfortunately, the Santa Rosa School District will make a decision to possibly close Doyle Park based on these two issues. However, as a volunteer in a first-grade class at Doyle Park, I feel compelled to share what I know about this lovely place beyond budgets and test scores.

Principal Kaesa Enemark came to Doyle Park two years ago after a succession of seven principals in seven years. Each year that she has been there has brought a greater degree of continuity and organization and the support necessary to build a culture of learning. Primarily, what I see and feel when I am there is a safe and calm environment for children to learn. The students are happy, energetic, engaged, respectful of their teachers and with one another. They are interested in making a contribution in class, individually and collectively.

In the first-grade class where I volunteer, the students all speak English, and, for most of the students, Spanish as well. They are excellent readers, and I have every reason to believe that in time they will also learn to be good test-takers, a skill I believe to be vastly overrated. I would much rather they become passionate about learning, avid readers, scientists or artists, excelling in whatever is their particular talent and ultimate contribution to our society.

While raising my children in Southern California, I sent my sons, by choice, to local public schools that had a diverse cultural mix of families. The experience has provided life-long benefits to my two grown sons, both college graduates and thoughtful, caring human beings. They both experienced being in the minority and majority on various athletic teams and while participating in an array of extracurricular activities.

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