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Guest Column - Kristi Cross

March 1, 2017

Kristi Cross
I didn't venture far after high school. I attended Southern Vermont College and completed my graduate studies online. I married, bought a home in Bennington, and had two children. I felt that my interpretation of "Bennington" was pretty comprehensive. Unfortunately, my naivety was brought to light when my children attended elementary school.

It was a compilation of experiences while waiting to pick up my children at school before I realized, my interpretation of Bennington may be inaccurate. Having been unintentionally sheltered, I underestimated the socioeconomic status of our community. It was quite a paradigm shift for me to feel less connected and naïve in a town I fondly refer to as "home". This was the catalyst for me to be more involved.

My children attend Bennington Elementary School. The poverty level at the school is well over 70% and the implications of this are quite obvious. Some of the children go an entire weekend without food. There are often challenging and disruptive behaviors from students and parents. While other parents may feel it necessary to remove their children from these challenges, I approached it with a different perspective. Having a mix of socioeconomic levels is essential to public school and community development.

My children are now 2nd and 4th graders. The teachers and staff at Bennington Elementary are incredible. The dedication of the staff is admirable and often under appreciated. My children and I speak openly about the challenges and their "role" in it all. They adore Bennington Elementary and excel academically. The experience has been, and continues to be, incredibly eye opening as a community member and as a parent. I implore you all to know the challenges of our public schools, recognize the teachers and staff, and do not be quick to speak negatively… we all have a role in this.

Author: Krisit Cross
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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