Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The "Learning Cottages" at Highland View have got to go

Despite widespread reports of problems at polling places in Maryland, I experienced no issues whatsoever at mine. In fact, I was the only person in the entire room outside of the poll workers, so I got in and out of there really fast.

Really what I want to talk about is that it's pathetic that Highland View still has portable classrooms sitting in its front playground. I can understand that schools sometimes need to add classroom space quickly and cheaply, but for God's sake, they were using them when I went to Highland View... twenty years ago! When I started there, we used to play 4-square in that playground then they brought in the portables after a couple years, relegating play to the "upper" playground.

In all that time that has passed, they couldn't just build a permanent extension to the building? It is sad that in one of the richest counties in the one of the richest countries in the world, the kids have to go to class in a double wide.

Also, if anyone refers to them as "learning cottages" in front of me with a straight face I am going to laugh at and/or slap them. Let's call a spade a spade, OK?

Here's a quick lesson for confused students and school administrators:

This is a cottage:

This, not so much:

For years, I have loved this page on the MCPS website. (Note the use of the term "learning cottage".)

The fifth graders anxiously awaited the arrival and setup of their new classrooms - called learning cottages. They arrived as trailers on September 21, 2001 and were ready as learning cottages on October 18. The photographs below show the construction, moving in, and how we looked on that first day in our new rooms.
OK, granted I was in fifth grade a long time ago, but I am certain I would not have looked favorably upon my playground being covered with trailers disguised as classrooms. Wait, I was in fifth grade (OK, maybe it was fourth) when they did that, and it sucked!


Terry in Silver Spring said...

I spent my fifth grade in a "learning cottage" at Apple Grove Elementary in Oxon Hill/Fort Washington. We called them "bird houses" back then.

The downside was weather. The windows weren't quite right and the wind would whistle through them. You also had to dash through rain/snow to get to lunch.

There was a positive side, though. My fifth grade teacher (this was in 1972) was Mr. Bohna, who was as close to being a hippie as the PG County School system was likely to hire. We LOVED him. He had shaggy hair, a semi-groomed beard, and wore jeans and flannel shirts. He'd bring in fresh road kill that he'd seen on his way to work and he'd dissect it for us for science. He'd also skin the carcass and nail the pelt to the outside of the "bird house". By the end of the year, the eaves on both ends of the "bird house" were lined with opossum and raccoon pelts.

Being in the trailer classroom made us feel like we were in this special world with our wonderful teacher. We raised animals in and around that classroom, from small things like white rats to goats and pigs. The goat and pig used to come in the classroom with us and we'd paint flowers on the pig with tempera paint. We also planted a garden just outside the "bird house" and ate the radishes and other veggies that we grew.

Mr. Bohna took us on hikes on Saturdays. Once, we followed Henson Creek (which flows near the school) all the way down to the Potomac. We also went to Pennsylvania and went spelunking. We hiked up a hillside and slide on our bellies into a slot in the earth that opened up into a phenomenal cave. That's how I found out I'm a bit clausterphobic. My sister's year, they went up to Mr. Bohna's mom's farm in PA and learned about the animals and crops. He also took them somewhere and taught them to repel down a cliff.

He was the best teacher I ever had and I loved that "bird house", even if it was chilly and drafty.

misha said...

Jogging past Highland View recently, I was amazed that those things were still there even after the renovations years ago. Those classrooms were crappy, but luckily I never had to endure them. What years were you there? We may know eachother and not know it.

Sligo said...

I was there fall '83 to January '86.

misha said...

Hmmm...I started in '85, I think. But I swear I have seen that playground without the "mobiles" which I think is what we called them.

Sligo said...

I definitely had some classes in the portables. There were less then, though.

MoCo said...

Move the MCPS administration offices and the County Executive Office Building (EOB) offices to trailers and let's see how they feel.