My children go to a small primary school.
It is a local government school set upon spacious grounds, surrounded by gum trees, with a creek running down the side of the oval.
There is a fully stocked canteen open daily, run by Mums.
There are plentiful facilities within each classroom, and a gym, and a dedicated activities block, as well as a brilliantly resourced library.
The staff are solid and are all enthusiastic, regardless of tenure. They care.
The principle is professional and quite the expert at extracting funding wherever she can.
There is very involved parent body that volunteers and helps out with everything from reading to sausage sizzles to soccer training.
There is a uniform with a fairly strict policy. The kids look smart.
I overhead a conversation between a parent and a teacher today.
The parent was expressing her concern that there are a number of new children who appear to be "in jeans and not in proper uniform".
I'll be honest, I had noticed the same thing. Sweatshirts instead of the school jacket, jeans instead of navy blue drill pants, scruffy sneakers instead of school shoes, random t-shirts instead of the standard issued embroidered polo shirt. I will be totally frank now, and tell you that it has irritated me - almost as if I felt let down by some other parents not "upholding" the fine standards of the school?
I continued to eavesdrop on the conversation, and whilst the concerned parent was not harsh or critical of the children or of the school, it seemed that this lack of "standard" was really bothering her - enough, certainly, to raise it with a teacher.
I sensed the teacher take a deep breath and look the parent in the eye.
"It's hard, isn't it? Don't we all wish that all children had the care that sends them lovingly dressed in a full clean and ironed uniform? But really, I am just so relieved that these children are actually here. They are turning up, against all odds, every day. Let us be thankful for that. Let us be grateful that they are here."
None of this conversation involved me. But I went away feeling humbled.
And more than a little ashamed of my previous perceptions.
And grateful that, indeed, these kids are managing to get to school and attend every day, to be with teachers who see beyond the smartness of a uniform.
And I am grateful that I overheard this conversation before I let my petty prejudice make me lose sight of what is really important about our kid's educations.