Christa McAuliffe School -Concord , NH

This week I have the honor of being a guest at the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, NH.  I’ve only been there for two days but so far I’ve learned what an extraordinary place this school truly is. 

I’ve been a teacher for over twenty years and have been in a lot of different buildings. Once you step into the door of a school, each one gives off a strong vibe of its personality.   Parents might not get this, but a veteran teacher will pick up on it immediately.  Every school has a different groove to it. Some are friendly and open, others are cold and indifferent. Most are somewhere in-between.  It certainly has something to do with the physical building itself, but more to do with the people (students, parents, and adults) that work there.

I had an old colleague once tell me that the worst thing a school district could ever do was to name a building after a person, because the building will never live up to the reputation of the individual. How so untrue this is in the case of the Christa McAuliffe School.  Maybe it’s the sprit of their namesake.  Maybe it me being overly dramatic.  But there is a force in this building that seeps from every brick and human cell of the place. They don’t just live up to their namesake…they TRULY MAKE HER PROUD. 

I have been planning on visiting this school for a long time.  As the Christa McAuliffe Fellow it was only fitting that the school named after her be on my list to visit. The fact that it's in my hometown in Concord, (and only a mile away) made it a no brainer.  I have been anticipating this residency for a long time. 

It’s a brand new building and it’s stunningly gorgeous! Walking through the halls for the first time it was instantly obvious how the building inspires creativity and learning. The flow of the building works effortlessly, and the contemporary use of mixed-media and technology throughout just makes you want to smile. Children will WANT to go to here everyday.  The staff is super friendly and are inspirational to the lucky children who go there. And their determination to teach is unwavering.  This was demonstrated to me almost immediately. 

 On Monday morning I pulled up with my trailer full of gear to load in for the assembly.  I was met at the door by the principal, Kristen Gallo.  We began loading my gear into the gym, when we suddenly realized that the vortex cannon was not going to fit through the gym door. So I brought it around to another door, dragging it along through the snow along Rumford street.  Must have been quite a site.  Mrs. Gallo met me at the the back door and let  me in.  This door was wider than the first but it still looked a bit skinny . So I pulled out my measuring tape and learned that it was still about a half-inch to narrow for the cannon to fit through.  RATS!   

I figured it was still worth a try. So with Mrs. Gallo egging me on I quickly disassembled the cannon into two separate pieces.  Now, the stand went through easily, but the big red cone would not.  Together with Mrs. Gallo pulling and me pushing, we nearly got it in…except for the last inch which jammed tight in the doorframe.  UGH!  I could tell by the look on her face that there was no way that this thing was NOT getting into the building.  Each time we pushed the door jam scraped the heck out of the paint, making a mess of the cannon. At this point I was ready to call it quits and abort the mission. But Mrs. Gallo was not quite as ready as I was.  She put her hands on her hips, took one look at the stuck cannon, and looked at me and said,  “Look. Can’t you just HORSE this thing!”

So we horsed it.  We jammed that sucker through.   We scraped the heck out of the door, made a mess of the cannon, and left a lot of red enamel paint chips on the floor.  It wasn’t easy, but we did it…somehow.  We got the cannon in. 

 The show went off without a hitch.  The children set a new record for quiet, at 55 dB, breaking the                                                           old record at New Boston Central School. And they screamed with joy when I fired the cannon off. We all had a blast! 

And when the kids left for the day I pulled my trailer back up to that same door and jammed the cannon back through a second time.   And you know what…I don’t care one bit. 

© Mike Alberici 2014