Let’s all choose to be here for our students

A leaking roof causes the floor of a science classroom at Gainesville High School to be covered with water each time it rains, teachers say. A wall in the science room had to be removed due to moisture-caused mold.

Gainesville High School and Junior High students huddle outside an exterior door, waiting for someone inside to open it during class changes in the school day. All exterior doors are locked for security, and students in band or agriculture classes must walk outside to reach their classrooms. Teachers in nearby classrooms routinely open the doors during class changes, but sometimes there’s a wait.

Ericka Armstrong

Every day I pull into the Gainesville High School / Junior High parking lot, and before I even enter the building I’m thinking a thousand different thoughts. Will the student who cried in my office yesterday be having a better day today? Will a project I know is going on in a particular class be relevant to the students? Will my ball players win their game? 

All of that circles my mind a million times a day, but what screams at me even louder is, Will all of our students stay safe? That’s my primary thought from the minute I walk in until the minute I walk out. 

Will someone fall down the bleachers? Will someone trip on the steps in the main hallway where we’ve had to remove the traction pads because the edge is crumbling off the step itself and people were tripping? Will I have students trapped outside because they’ve tried to re-enter the main building after band or ag or another class that requires them to exit the facility? Will all my junior high kids make it up and down the high school hallway without being swallowed up by my much larger high school students? 

I hate that these are the questions I start my day with. 

I want to spend my time thinking about new curricula, up-to-date procedures and helping students reach their full potential.I want to be figuring out how to get computer coding and STEM classes and a senior seminar on the schedule – courses that prepare students for the future instead of just teaching skills of today. In these areas, it seems we’re constantly playing catch-up when we should be leading the way.

I know a lot of you are probably thinking, She’s the new one … what does she know? She’ll be here a year or two and travel on. She came, she saw the problems, she’ll leave. 

The reality is, I choose to be here, and I’m committed to being here. 

We bought property in this area and are now proud residents of Wasola. My three kids all attend Gainesville Elementary. I have a vested interest because of them. I pulled them out of a school that offered them more. I want to get this right for them. You should want us to get this right for your kids too. 

If you don’t have kids, you should still want us to get this right because these kids are the future leaders of this community. Soon enough, you’ll be relying on what they know and what they don’t know to make the decisions on how this place is run. If they’ve been raised up in a facility that is falling down around their ears and what they’ve learned from you is that it’s OK to stay that way, how will they ever know to strive for more?

Proposition Gainesville Schools gives residents an opportunity. It allows the community to replace crumbling or ripped-up floors that kids and teachers are tripping on and instead put down flooring in the many classrooms that have cracked concrete as their only surface. It allows us to replace the roof that leaks so profusely that we literally have had to remove mold-ridden walls that are both a health and safety concern. It allows us to enclose the high school / junior campus so that students don’t have to go outside to change classes – such a basic need that I can’t believe we’re having to prove the value in it. Proposition Gainesville Schools also allows us to create a hardened space to keep our students (and residents of the surrounding community) safe from Mother Nature. It allows us to reallocate space so that our junior high students aren’t mixed in with the high schoolers during class change. It allows us to serve our students at the level they deserve to be served.

I choose to be here. Now we all need to choose to be here for our students and prove that with a vote for Proposition Gainesville Schools.

Ericka Armstrong

Gainesville Junior High principal

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423