By Elizabeth Janning
Green is everywhere. I find it in the green sprawling lawns on both sides of White Chapel Boulevard; across the green fields of Bob Jones Park; within the green canopy covering Continental Boulevard; under the lights of the green turf fields of Dragon Stadium; on the green holiday garland now hanging in Southlake Town Square; and adorning the bodies of children wearing green Dragon T-shirts.
The green Dragons of the Carroll Independent School District are what define Southlake for our family. Over six years ago, our family made the deliberate decision to move to the green of Southlake so that our three children would have the opportunity to attend the Carroll public schools.
By attending this district, every student is deemed a Dragon. From any of the elementary schools up through the senior high school, all students, teachers and staff are bound together by a singular identity as Carroll Dragons.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, two of our five elementary schools are ranked third and fourth as the best elementary schools in the state of Texas. Since our relocation, we have had at least one child in one of those schools, Carroll Elementary, every year since.
My youngest is the only one who still attends Carroll Elementary. She regularly rides her bike safely and independently to school. It was here, in this school, where we first affirmed our real sense of community. It is the teachers and staff who serve the youngest Dragons where this notion continues to be validated daily.
The professional, quirky, ever-exploring kindergarten teacher who greets us with hugs makes where I live special. The high school teacher who goes out of their way to engage with all students and push them to step outside of their comfort zone is what makes where I live special. The inspiring and demanding middle school principal who knows the name of each of his over 600 students by the end of the first nine weeks makes where I live special. And every educator in between — this is what makes where I live, Southlake, special.
Although I wish that was the end and there was nothing more to say about where I live, unfortunately, it is not. Southlake has had a tumultuous few years. Starting publicly in 2018 with a viral video, where I live has been down a confusing road leading to the dark and complicated place where we stand today. Acts of racism, bigotry and discrimination have happened in the same district that drew us here. I want nothing more than to report that our school district and community have taken action to protect all students since that video surfaced. However, an initial well-intended response came to a halt.
Instead, we are in a limbo. Our community has become mired in national politics pitting neighbor against neighbor. The voices of students have been stifled to barely audible background noise.
Our one green Dragon nation is fractured. The young members of our community need the adults to listen, acknowledge and take action to protect from them from ongoing harm due to discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
As a white woman raising three white children, I recognize I speak from a place of privilege. Stopping and listening, really listening to understand how it must feel to be the mother of a black son who is regularly called slurs; the mother of a Jewish girl who wishes she was no longer Jewish due to crippling words her peers use about her religion; the mother of a young boy who is bullied as he tries to explore his sexuality. If we can truly hear these stories as our own, we will be driven to take action and support all of these Dragons.
As a parent, I recognize our kids need us to do better. Trust between one another, our community and our school district needs to be mended. Our community and our world are changing, and we should equip our students to be prepared when they leave. I believe there are tangible ideas we can agree on such as building student skills that promote and recognize unique personal differences as a benefit. We must also equip our teachers and staff with the tools to manage adverse situations when they occur. Our school district needs to be a safe and welcoming environment for each and every Dragon to learn and grow.
Civic leaders, including our mayor and City Council, should make uniting our community their top priority. Our elected school board trustees, plus the Carroll ISD superintendent. in conjunction with local religious leaders should work together to ensure all students of all backgrounds feel safe, heard and respected in Carroll ISD.
I want to work together to get there because there are places where green is missing right now. My green Dragon T-shirt remains on the bottom of a drawer, and I yearn to wear it proudly again.
Total population: 31,292
Female: 51% | Male: 49%
80 and older: 2%
No degree: 1%
High school: 10%
Some college: 20%
Bachelor’s degree: 40%
White: 74% | Asian: 16% | Hispanic: 6% | Black: 2% | Two or more: 2%
Click on the link to view the schools’ Texas Education Agency ratings:
Elizabeth Akers Janning is an avid reader, mom, wife, community leader, runner and a blogger. She grew up reading and running in rural Pennsylvania. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in English from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. She and her husband, Jason, are raising three readers — 10th-grade, eighth-grade and fourth-grade students — in Southlake.