Elementary School is Where It All Starts

Roosevelt Elementary School Saved Me

While in Ossining we visit my old elementary school.  To keep the schools balanced in terms of diversity, Ossining currently has an unusual system    There is one school for K-1 for everyone and then each year you move to a different school according to what grade you are in.  Roosevelt has fifth grade. 

This is a big change from my days in Ossining.  When we first moved there I was in second grade and we moved in mid year.  Brookside was on top of the hill near the country club.  Real estate was high priced   The students were for the most part well off.  Our neighborhood was an outlier, the furthest from the school.  I had red hair and freckles.  It was mid year and I was coming from a Catholic school, where we were ahead of the class I was now in.  They decided day one they didn’t like me  I didn’t stand a chance.  They taught me a lot about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of bullying.   Stories of Brookside are a blog in itself for another day.

Suffice it to say that when our neighborhood, at the end of the year, was redistricted to a school closer to downtown, I no longer dreaded school.. I went to Roosevelt on my first day in September and no problem.  Nobody harassed me, kids were pretty much friendly and I came home bathed in relief and surprised that public school could be a welcoming place. 

Roosevelt meant friends, laughing at school, walking home instead of taking a bus, not being afraid to go to school, and feeling comfortable like I belonged there.

Roosevelt also meant Ms. Lofaro, my math teacher from the south who called me Colleen with a long O and the accent on the first syllable all year.  I corrected her once but she wasn’t having it so I accepted my newly altered name and now it reminds me of her.

Going back to visit at the time of my reunion I was proud of my old school again and I thought “Yes that is the same welcoming arms open school I went to as a third grader  Look at the sign in front of the school on a large placard.  “Boost your brain power.  Every student, Eat school breakfast here, every day, free!!!”

The sign is even translated into Spanish.   That’s my Roosevelt!

For some reason my sign is showing up backwards, but you get the idea.

4 thoughts on “Elementary School is Where It All Starts

  1. That is an intriguing school system! I am so glad you got to return to Roosevelt, and that the rich memories there seem to outweigh the affliction of Brookside (I am sure there must be many painful stories). I loved hearing about your southern teacher; your fondness for her and the school is palpable.

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