Sitting on the low stone wall, our eyes meet and he flashes us a nervous grin and anxiously looks around at the other kids and parents sitting and loitering nearby. The year is 1995 and we are waiting at the bus stop for the big yellow school bus that will take our son to his very first day of school at Forest Trail Elementary. There are several other "first timers" and their parents along with a half dozen students ranging in age from 7 to 11. In a moment, we hear the roar of the bus as it heads around the corner and comes to a stop in front of us. The doors noisily slide open and the kids begin to file on one at a time. My wife squeezes my hand as we watch him climb on board as he turns and waves goodbye. Her tears begin as the bus pulls away and I gently tease her and say, "It's okay, you want to follow the bus to school?" We both laugh and then immediately run to our car and pull in behind the bus with several other like-minded parents forming a wagon train, following the bus to school! On our drive I keep telling her he will be fine and not to worry and she laughs while crying and reminds me that our "baby boy" is growing up! I'm still laughing and agree and all is well until we pull up in the school lot, park and watch him bound off the last step, smiling and so excited to be at school. Then it happens to me...big salty tears pour from my eyes as my wife and I hug and watch the scene. Yes, as intense as my business persona can be at times...I do have a soft spot for my family and the well being of others.
This week that scene will be repeated to various degrees in the Eanes School District where we call home and all over the country! Actually we moved to the Eanes School District when our son was only 3 and our daughter was about a month away from arriving in the world! At my previous real estate firm located in Westlake, I volunteered at several of the schools and was impressed with just about EVERYTHING I saw. Every school had great teachers, staff, administrators, a wonderful curriculum, healthy, active parent involvement and dedication to excellence on every level. After talking it over with my wife, we began looking for a home in the area and moved in 1992. This year the Texas Education Agency has rated every school in Eanes, EXEMPLARY and all of the schools consistently perform at the highest levels! Here is an interesting detail: Only 60% of the residents in Eanes have students in school however the rest stay because the quality of the schools contributes to keeping the property values up! As a matter of fact, our daughter is a senior at Westlake this year (something she is exceedingly proud of) and when she leaves for college next year, we also intend to stay in the district. Not JUST because of the schools but they are a major factor.
For more information on all of our excellent schools, please click on the links provided that will take you to the District Site as well as each of the individual schools where you will have access to an incredible amount of data and resources! And if you have a chance, volunteer, they can always use the help!
Alright...now fast forward to last week. Our son asked me to accompany him as he drove back to college to begin his sophomore year. We all had a good summer together but as some of you may know about teenagers, it was T I M E for him to return to school. On the way up he mentioned that he had not really had a chance to mentally prepare for his next year and leaving home again. This came as something of a surprise to me because he has always loved travel, adventure and has an ardent streak of independence. He just said he was still something of a "homeboy" and talked about how much he loved us and being home...Anyway, after a 7 hour drive we arrived at school, unloaded and got him moved in to his fraternity house (That's another story all together!) and then it was time for us to head for the airport. As in the past everything was FINE until I took one last picture of him at the drop off area and he hugged me. When I started to relax my grip, he hugged me just a little harder and then it started...big, warm, salty tears which I tried to blink away but to no avail. I tried to mumble something and he smiled and said, "It's alright Dad, I am just on the edge myself." And so it goes, anyone who has even a modicum of love for their children must experience something like this to some extent and his Mom and I are just grateful that he and his sister have been gifts to us AND that they have the opportunity to receive a good education!
School is back so watch out for those children!!!