School 81: A Diamond in the Rough?

I gave birth to this kid four months ago.


Cute, right?

Well he wasn’t more than a day or two old, before Charlie and I started SERIOUSLY talking about where we would send him to school. Sure, we were getting a little ahead of ourselves given that he has to first master some basic life skills like eating and sleeping and cheering for the Bills before the bus pulls up and whisks him off to kindergarten. But still, now that we have a real-life tiny human in front of us, all of a sudden we feel like we have to start the conversation.

Many o’ times we’ve uttered the words “well there’s NO WAY we can send him to public schools, not in Buffalo”. The options were always Catholic schools, charter schools (whatever those are) or banking on the fact that we were raising the next Albert Einstein and we’d be enrolling him in the early achiever program at Harvard.

A pleasant Facebook conversation with a Hello Hertel reader I’ve never met now has me thinking otherwise.

This fellow North BuffaLOVER wrote me a quick note to say how much she enjoyed reading our blog. We exchanged a number of pleasantries and yada yada yada (thanks George Costanza for one of the greatest segues ever), turns out we have a mutual friend (classic Buffalo) AND turns out she’s a teacher at School 81 on Tacoma Ave.

I have driven by that school a million times and in the last four months have been wondering if that is one of the good ones you hear young parents living in the city talk about. According to her, it is. My eyes lit up.

She said the principal at 81 runs a “tight ship” and their students go on to Nichols and City Honors. She acknowledged that Buffalo Public Schools do have their challenges (putting it nicely) but said that walking into School 81 is unlike any other. Who is this Principal Tight Ship and what is he all about?

See this article from the Buffalo News on School 81’s Principal, Robert Clemens.

If you’re a young parent in North Buffalo, I truly hope you clicked that link. After reading that, I have a renewed sense of hope that a Buffalo public school, School 81 in our own backyard, could be a viable option for our child’s education someday.

A renewed sense of hope from a complete stranger, now Facebook friend, thanks to this very blog.

Now I just need Principal Clemens to stick around for another 13 years…ya know, in case that Harvard thing doesn’t work out.


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