My name is Daniel Eiland and I am a teacher at Woodlawn High School and the coach of our robotics team, Panthrobotics. As a teacher, I have always felt that it was my job to remain as impartial as I could in regards to the St. George decision. My job, regardless of who manages our school, is to provide the best education possible for my students.
While I realize that the fight for a St. George vote has not come to an end, I do want to ask a favor while St. George supporters continue to fight. Do not let your feelings over this battle color how you view our school. Yes, we can all agree that there are issues within the East Baton Rouge school system, but what I still contend is that these issues are not the fault of the kids nor many of the faculty who work at Woodlawn High School.
I hear many of you talking about leaving our area and pulling your kids to another system. It saddens me to hear this. When I look at my school, I see a place that would accept and educate your student in ways that many other places cannot. I am the coach of one of the largest and most active robotics teams in the state. Our program has consistently seen students graduate to advanced engineering programs throughout our state and beyond. I know that our choir, band, football program, cheerleading program, dance program, symphonic program and many others are run by teachers who truly care about their students. I have the privilege of being under one of the most amazing principals that I’ve had the opportunity to know in Scott Stevens, and I have watched our school’s culture change despite the fact that we are dead center in a tug-of-war between various groups of people.
In one year or two years or 10 years, St. George supporters may find themselves with their own city and school system. They may not. What I will ask is this: What will you find when this happens? Will you find a school that is thriving because, despite your disagreement with the leadership of Baton Rouge, you continue to support your community school? Will you find programs that are robust because your businesses are willing to sponsor and send mentors to help support our programs? Will you choose to hold back support, thinking that, in some way, it hurts a system you disagree with?
Truth be told, it doesn’t. Who you are hurting are the kids who may not be able to afford private school or perhaps who did not make it into the vaunted magnet schools or, in many cases, students who saw how awesome our programs are, realize that they can have a community school experience even in a giant system like EBR and decided to enroll.
Most of these students come from your community. Most of them are amazing kids who want to have a school where the football stadium is filled on Fridays and where our theater can actually fill seats because the community cares about what we do. In short, fight your fight, but don’t forget that we are still here. We have the ability to be an amazing school that can be a bright light in your community — but only if you are willing to help.
Daniel L. Eiland