Building Community on the Road
by Michelle Granese
It’s 6:45 a.m. on a sunny spring morning in Lexington, Massachusetts. Cars are gathered at a rest stop where 13 Landmark Elementary•Middle School students are boarding a bus for school. Parents are saying goodbye, offering last-minute reminders, and wishing their kids a good day. For many this would seem challenging – sending their child to school an hour away in Manchester—yet for these families it has become so natural, a normal weekday morning. Despite the ease of this arrangement, it does not happen on its own. Jennifer Haggerty P’22, of Needham, Massachusetts, is one of the exceptional Landmark parents who make this operation run smoothly for families in the Metro West area.
Three years ago when Jennifer’s daughter Ciara started at EMS, their family was lucky enough to join a parent-created bus arrangement. At first, it had been a bit unnerving for Jennifer and her husband, John, to put their young daughter on a bus with unfamiliar children headed to a brand new school so far away. To get to know everyone better, Jennifer and John hosted a dinner for the parents of the children on the bus and quickly gained comfort hearing similar stories about each family’s journey to Landmark and experience with the school community.
After that first year on the bus, Jennifer and other parents decided to rethink the transportation arrangement for their children, not only to improve logistics, but more importantly, to strengthen community among the local Landmark families.
Together, the parents scouted and negotiated a new bus contract, coordinated logistics, and improved group communication. Before the start of the academic year on the new bus, Jennifer and John began a new tradition of gathering parents and children for an ice cream social at their home to review schedule updates, introduce new riders, and present the official “bus rules” for the year. Most importantly, the kids and parents had a time to catch up and share their excitement for the year ahead.
We are grateful for all of Jennifer’s contributions to the Landmark community, which extend well beyond transportation logistics. In addition to hosting other Metro West social events and volunteering at EMS as much as she can, Jennifer has also created a “Frequently Asked Questions” document for new EMS families, highlighting ways parents can get involved, as well as the little things like where to grab a cup of coffee and what beaches to visit while waiting to pick up a child!
Article originally published in The Lantern, Spring/Summer 2017