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There is definitely something wrong with me. This I think we know. 20 years teaching a population most people walk to the other side of the street to avoid, doing it not just with a smile on my face but an honest smile on my face. Enjoying it, like really enjoying it, like I’m shocked they pay me for it kind of enjoying it. Not normal, but really, what is normal?

The smart teachers find their sweet spots. Put me in a classroom of second graders and I break out in nervous hives. Sure I love most kids but my sweet spot is definitely with the high schooler that is just a little bit outside the box. ADHD, OCD, LH, SED, LBGTQ, I’m all about the acronym kids.

Angry-bring it, Depressed-yes please, Dysfunctional family, drug addicted, traumatized, entitled, lost, or just disconnected. You are my people.

“Welcome to the island of misfit toys, my name is Walt and I will do everything I can to make your stay here pleasant and productive, now please keep your limbs inside the cab at all times, hold on and enjoy the ride”.

I didn’t think about this too much but enough to realize that my philosophy also resides somewhere outside the box which is why I get along with conventional rules about as much as my students.

This Friday the 24th from 3-5 there is an open house at the Sonoma High Tennis Courts for the unveiling of the new Dragon Tennis wall. What is the new Dragon Tennis Wall? Well, turn off your screen, get to the courts and find out.

It is not just a wall but also a bridge between two schools. A joint project combining the design and building talents of Creekside High School’s Geometry and Social Responsibility classes with the energy and support of the SVHS boy’s Tennis team.

But it is more than that. It is also a symbolic representation of a proposal to the Sonoma School District to finally break down at a district level, the wall between the two schools. To finally establish a policy of full inclusion for Creekside High School students who wish to participate in activities at SVHS.

Sports, drama, band, 0 period classes, wood, metal, and other electives all should be available for students regardless of where they are enrolled. If a student is interested, in good academic standing and the schedule works they should be allowed access. Period. Do what is best for the student; you’ve heard me say it before.

Great in theory but the reality is that access is based more on the personalities in charge than the policies of the state. The simple goal of the California Department of Education is to, “ensure equal, fair, and meaningful access to its employment and program services.”

What “equal, fair and meaningful access” means to me is that if something is not offered at one school, the student can access it at another. What this also means is that a progressive, student-centered administration will allow access, a rigid, non-student centered administration will not. In my last 17 years of teaching, access has been totally up to the gatekeeper (principal) and how they interpret “equal, fair, and meaningful access.”

My goal is to finally establish a district policy that creates bridges from school to school and allows student access to all activities. We build too many walls in education and those walls often marginalize the people behind them. Why not say that all students can utilize whatever is offered, why not allow a homeschooled 10th grader to be in the SVHS Spring play? Why can’t a Sonoma Charter School student play on the Woodland Star lacrosse team? Why can’t a Creekside student join the SVHS tennis team?

Equal. Fair. Meaningful. Come see it represented this Friday from 3-5 at the SVHS tennis courts.