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Thank you and ryan grim for the insightful article on the failed gentrification of Ross and for bringing back a flood of great memories. My daughters attended Ross more than 10 years ago, and it remains a cherished place for our family. My kids learned all the important life stuff at Ross: reading, long division, crocheting from Mrs. Gomez, soccer from school custodian Mr. Variega, basic playground-level Spanish, gardening from Farmer Bob, mask-making from the beloved Thom Workman (the afterschool program director back then). They got to eat a lot of great food: tamales, pupusas, beans and rice, plaintains, Mrs. Pinto’s curried chicken. They learned how to respect their elders, mind their manners (Mrs. Pinto again), conjugate their verbs, and got a lot of hugs and love in return. They never had to learn about playground bullies because the culture of Ross did not foster cruelty, condescension, or competition. Parents, staff, and volunteers contributed in our own ways and with our own talents to enhance the happiness, well-being, and opportunities of our “children.” Ross provided my own two kids not only with basic academic skills but also with a deeply complex and joy-filled childhood, which they would agree has grounded them for life in a multitude of ways. In my opinion, that is a quality that very, very few schools ever achieve.
In my recollection, the teachers at Ross understood their responsibility to educate all children and made no bones about their priority being children with greatest needs, be they emotional-, learning-, or language-based. That is the way it should be. Kids who grasped academic concepts more quickly than others were usually recruited to help their classmates or given something else to do. Perhaps most important, every child was loved, worried about, praised, enjoyed, and fussed at, and no child ever believed that he or she was more valued than another child. I never had the fortune to meet Principal Smith, but your story (and the word on the street) indicates that the unique character of Ross thrives under her management.
Believe me, it is a privilege to attend that wonderful little neighborhood school—the way it is, and not the way it could be.
New Bedford, Mass.