The Southwood shuffle

The Southwood shuffle

A school memoir.

The hall above bisects the middle of the Southwood Early Childhood Center in Bloomington, MN. Once it was a grade school. In between that and the building's current usage it was once split amongst three groups: a Montessori school, a daycare center and a pilot special educational program named Family Focus. Toward the end of my time in that pilot program however, the Montessori school had moved a few blocks to the north, and I have no idea where the daycare center moved to.  After that, Family Focus had the run of the place until the program was terminated at a date I’ve yet to uncover.

I can still recall the daily routine instilled into students enrolled at Family Focus. A routine that both began and ended inside the open door you see on the left hand side of the photo.

On days without special all-school events scheduled, the routine would go like this: Upon our arrival we would gather in the gym, where our various classes got sorted together by a teacher or their assistant. Our first duty of the day as a class would be forming in a line and marching off to our classroom.  

Being at the front of the line was an honor that either was awarded by merit or one rotated amongst the class per school day; my memory fails me as to which method would see me at times lead the class on in feeling a bit of pride in spite of my dislike of having to be there so far from my home in Minnetonka, MN.

Once at class, a fairly normal school day of the kind you could find in regular schools would take place with subjects like math and all that kind of jazz covered, along with breaks for playtime and lunch.   

The most unique deviation from a “normal” school day for us would be seeing a counselor. This took us out of the classroom and back to the hall by the gym you see here. The counselor’s offices were located down the hall and to the right.  

My counselor was named Thomas Cook. Tom Cook meant well but did not have a clue as to what made me tick and why I had such a hard time in school and doing things like taking part in mass group activities like watching movies, speakers, and so on. I hate to say it, but he viewed me as a kid who needed to conform in order to get by in the world and did his best to achieve his goal. He did not come close to achieving it, because while I gave him respect, I also did not go along with his various schemes. I liked myself just the way I was! Our sessions would last for about a half an hour or so, and then back to class I went.

At the end of the day we would march out of class back to the gym and break up prior to boarding a bus (or in my case, a van) for home. Ringing down the curtain on yet another day doing what I hereby dub the Southwood Shuffle.