As you plan your family dinners this time of year, I’m sure you work out all the details, considering menus, shopping, meal times, football games, and maybe even conversation points, like, “Don’t bring this topic up with Uncle Johnny in the room!”

When we bring several people from various home backgrounds into the mix, we plan for things to run as smoothly as possible. But we are also aware that sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Now imagine this scenario in our schools. Each day at Mexico 59, we manage what happens in your home with what happens in the home of over 2,500 other students. We work with kids and their families. We always make a plan, but we also know and expect, it won’t go perfectly.

Educators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and all of us at Mexico Schools have the pretty amazing task of shaping the lives of youth in our community. But this can be a double-edged sword, right? Because… we’re working with someone’s kids. That’s a sensitive job to do! I’m not sure about you, but if you really want to get me fired up about something, that usually happens when I’m upset about an experience involving my children. We get angry about things because our children are upset, or we believe our children have been treated unfairly.

So what happens when things go wrong at that family dinner? We usually tell someone. We say, “You won’t believe what my Uncle said at the dinner table!” And when we’re dissatisfied with the school, we have the same option. We tell someone. Lots of someones! In fact, dissatisfied people will tell as many as 16 others about a bad experience.

When there is a concern about the school, how do we find out about it? A parent may email a teacher, or call the building office, or speak with another employee of the school in the grocery store or at a game. And, of course, we receive screenshots of concerns posted on Facebook, whether it’s on a personal page or a group page.

A few years ago, I attended training where the speaker shared that people go to work, and they gripe about their spouse to their co-workers. Then, people go home and gripe about their co-workers to their spouse. So, who can fix the problem here? As a parent or community member, who should you go to with your concern? You should go to the person who can solve the problem. If it’s a teacher, contact the teacher. If it’s a bus driver, contact the bus driver. Instead, we often hear, “Tell the school board! Call the Superintendent! Report it to DESE!” Or the concern is just posted directly to Facebook without any call to school.

So if you’re a parent or community member with a concern, and we hope you share it with us, we want to find a solution for the best interest of the child. In essence, a disgruntled parent is giving us a gift: feedback on their experience with the school. We take this seriously as we strive to continuously improve our processes and find a solution. Sometimes, a parent just needs more information on the “why” behind what’s going on at school.

If you have a concern, I encourage you to first speak directly with the person involved in the issue. If the issue is not resolved, then move through the chain of command, starting with the building level leader or supervisor and, if not resolved, to Central Office. If you start with the school board or with DESE, the concern is going to go right back to the beginning. So we should just start from there.

I also encourage you to remember that everyone is someone’s kid. Your child’s teacher is someone’s kid. Your child’s bus driver is someone’s kid. Your child’s principal is someone’s kid. And no family member wants their child to be treated unkindly.

It’s been said that the communities with the best schools win. Public education is a collaborative partnership between the school, parents and the community it serves. Not just during this season of thanksgiving, but every day, we are so very grateful to be a part of building students into productive and responsible citizens of Mexico. So when you’re giving thanks around your tables this holiday season (even for Uncle Johnny) also remember that we cannot do the great work of teaching, learning, and caring without your help and your support too! #MEX59TLC.

Marci Minor is the Mexico Public Schools public relations coordinator.