‘From the living room to the home room’
The Cleveland Family
It’s one thing to be a parent. Having to deal with the day to day activities is something most parents are all too familiar with. However, having the ability to be deeply involved in their schooling is something else entirely.
Being from a small town has its own set of trials and benefits and for the parents, who also serve as teachers; it can be a fair balance of both.
“Really, the only headache I have found is fighting the stigma that because I work at their school, they get special treatment on certain things,” says Elsberry R-II School District Business Manager Anne Anthony. “One thing I have tried to do to fight that is to stay in the background and let them be their own person.”
According to Anne, her method allows her two children, Logan and Trevor Anthony, to either succeed or fail on their own and deal with the consequences of it.
“I think it has helped bring us closer,” said Anne. “I am able to spend more time with them after the school day is done, as opposed to getting home at six or seven at night if I worked elsewhere.”
Kim Jones, Media Liaison for the District said she loves being able to spend more time with her children Natalie, Bristol and Lillian.
“I tell people all the time I could go down the road and make more money, but money isn’t everything,” said Jones. “I am with my children before and after school, including their days off.”
However, Kim said she sees the same stigmatisms Anne referred to; favoritism.
“Some people judge them for being the teacher’s kid and act as though they get some kind of special treatment,” said Kim. “But I wouldn’t change a thing. 15-years ago I gave up a great paying job just so I could be with my family more and I don’t regret a thing about it.”
For Fifth Grade Teacher Scott Cleveland, being able to be in the same District teaching as his daughter Madison Cleveland is more than rewarding, because he has been able to watch her grow in her education from kindergarten all the way into high school.
“I have also been able to see her in many different after school activities, like sports, plays and band,” said Scott. “When she was in elementary and she needed her parents, we were right there. We brought her to school early and she stayed late when we did. Now that she is in high school and driving, she briefly tells me what happens during her day, asks if she can go somewhere, asks for money and is driving off.”
However, because Elsberry is such a small district many of the same kids are in several activities and Madison “seems” to be involved in everything, which causes Scott and his wife Tracey, to be constantly on the go.
“From a young age Madison has known that if she does something good or bad, someone was going to tell me or her mother,” said Scott. “I don’t know if that helps her make better decisions or if it is because Madison is a very mature young lady and can take care of herself.”
At the end of the day, Scott say’s he trusts Madison’s judgment and because of that, he sees no way of hurting their relationship as father, daughter, former teacher or student.
Anne said for her, the concerns are a little different. For her sitting back, watching them struggle through tough times and letting them make their mistakes, learn from them and not stepping in to help has been her biggest tribulation.
“Watching them grow into their own unique personalities and listening to the stories from other teachers has made it all worth it,” said Anne. “I think for the most part, they enjoy it. We have discussed what it would be like if I had a different job outside of school and they have basically said, ‘mom, you can’t do that.’”
Joe Hensley, head of maintenance for the Elsberry School District couldn’t agree more. In fact, he said being able to see them throughout the day, talk to them, help them and have a more first person view of their education is something he treasures.
“I’ve been here for a little over two years now and every day, whether good or bad, it’s a blessing being able to spend time with my daughter, [Megan Hensley], in the morning and throughout the day,” said Joe. “She comes in in the morning, talk to her for a few minutes and then at lunch time I either have soda or money for her to get something to eat and in the afternoon she comes in and I can do my job while she does her homework or what not.”
The only real regret Hensley said he has is the fact he wasn’t able to do this with all five of his children, Tamera Moore, Hensley’s eldest step daughter, Kayla Moore, Michael Hensley – Elsberry Graduate, Thomas Hensley – a Junior at EHS and Megan, his youngest daughter and freshman at EHS.
“I did and do get to be here while three of them were here,” said Joe. “Unfortunately I missed out on my two eldest. At first I was kind of worried if they would even like me working at the school, but they do and it’s become a real positive thing.”
Over the years many of these parents have been able to share in each other’s memories. Jones said one of her fondest is getting to watch her eldest daughter Natalie mature through her high school years and graduate third in her class.
“Now she will be graduating with honors in May from UCM, Warrensburg,” said Kim. “I look forward to having a front row seat to watch the other two go through their school years also.”
Anne said one of her favorite things about watching her sons go through school is that as they have gotten older and having been able to make almost every event they’re involved in, she has had a clear view of them turning into responsible young adults.
“From the very beginning, I have tried to stay in the background and not hover over either one of them so they can experience a normal education,” said Anne. “It’s been a real blessing for me.”
Scott said for him the best feeling has been being able to see how well she does in her classes and throughout school.
“Getting to see her in the different sports, especially softball has been a thrill for me,” said Scott. “Watching her soak in what Coach is telling her and watching her apply it on the field is amazing. Going to school plays and seeing that all of the practice she has done has paid off.”
At the end of the day the thing these parents love has been being part of a small school district and knowing that everyone is there for each other when they need it.
“It’s a great feeling to know that there are people who have your back,” said Kim.
When asked how she felt about being part of the same school her father works and mother used to, Madison simply said, “I’m a lucky girl. I know they are here for me. I know they care, not just about me personally, but in my education and future.”