The average school district in Ohio has around 2,500 students. Thus, Worthington with over 9,500 students is considered a large school district. One of the challenges in a large school district is connecting with our students and families so that there is a small town atmosphere.
In Worthington one of our main connection strategies is K-6 elementary schools. Our students enter kindergarten at age 5 in one school and ideally they spend 7 years with the same principal, teaching staff and support staff. This time allows for our adults to get to know our students and our families really, really well. Likewise it allows our students to build lasting friendships with their peer set.
When things work out well our students are supported by a cadre of caring adults all who know the kids like they are their own. In my children’s case we’ve seen this first hand. My family lives .4 miles from Evening Street Elementary. We’re solidly within the walking zone and so my three girls walk to school each day. Daily they have to cross 161 on their way to and from school. The traffic on 161 is often heavy, sometimes moving quickly, and can be less than patient. To make sure our students are safe the City of Worthington provides a crossing guard.
Carol Leahy has been the crossing guard at 161 and Evening Street for at least the past seven years. (Maybe, long before that, but I didn’t have the records from the city.) Being a crossing guard is difficult. This morning it was 45 degrees and sprinkling rain. I was cold walking from my warm car to my warm office. Mrs. Leahy stands outside for over an hour, corrals kids and parents to the cross walk area, and physically stands in front of rush hour traffic. Then she does it again each afternoon. (I believe there is a special place in heaven for crossing guards.)
Here’s the amazing part….not only does Mrs. Leahy do her job and keep kids safe, she somehow also takes the time to build a positive relationship with them. She actually knows each child! She does this to the level that just this week she said, “I see that Riley (my 7-year-old) lost a tooth.” How is that possible? My kid is bundled up and under an umbrella. My kid is surrounded by her two sisters (who are certainly talking a mile a minute), she’s surrounded by parents with dogs, the kid down the street who skateboards to school, and the three kids dragging their scooters that they thought would be fun to ride to school but are considering ditching in the neighbors bushes. In all the craziness that is Mrs. Leahy’s daily life she knows that my child lost a tooth!
That’s the Worthington connection. That’s what is different about Worthington than many other communities. In a competitive marketplace that’s why families should seriously consider Worthington Schools for their children. Not only do our kids receive a diverse, high quality education, our kids are supported by an incredible group of adults. Even the crossing guards! Thanks Mrs. Leahy!