There's a crew of substitute secretaries that fill in at the various schools when the regulars are gone. [Side note: secretaries appear to have the highest rate of absence of any position I have ever seen. Where do they even get all that sick time?] As time goes on, I'm starting to get to know a few of them, but today I met a new one. She was very sweet, your typical semi-retired elderly woman, and took a break in my office to find out my story - people are always fascinated as to how I came to be a school nurse at my age. We got to chatting about the district, and she mentioned a couple of other schools, describing them as "unbelievable" with a lot of eye-rolling. No surprise, the two unbelievables she mentioned were my two other schools. When I told her this, she just looked at me and clucked, "Bless you little thing."
And about my schools: One is an elementary school in a terrible neighborhood, one that I have specifically been told by several individuals to leave by nightfall (not that I'd have any reason to be here after dark) for fear of violence. This school has the most orderly students, and is the best performing. Another school is an elementary school in a bad neighborhood, with terribly performing and out of control students. The third is a middle school in the same bad neighborhood also with terribly performing and out of control students. What sets the one elementary school apart? Why are the kids better behaved, and why do they do so much better academically, despite being in an even worse neighborhood economically? I don't know, but it's been fantastic to have been so pleasantly surprised by the environment. Lesson: don't judge a neighborhood by its cover.