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By the time you read this, school will have been back in session for several days.
We do not yet have a lot of results from various assessments to discuss, so I want to briefly focus on the personal and emotional side of opening day. When I looked through the paper yesterday, I saw the question of the week was “Are you ready for school to begin?”
Six people (five kids and one young adult) were featured.
The answer in each case was “yes.”
My favorite was from Lillie Leitner, who simply said, “Yes, I’m ready to learn.”
From her picture, she looks to be about five or six years old. That young lady, with that simple statement, sums up the desires of almost all our kids, regardless of how they may develop a contrary attitude to display as they get older. The desire to learn is innate among human beings, perhaps the most important desire we have to ensure our survival (o.k., maybe second).
The job for us all is to kindle and protect that desire.
Parents and other important adults can do so by expressing excitement and interest about what children are learning.
Teachers can do it by displaying enthusiasm and presenting lessons in a way that engage students’ interests and natural curiosity.
I was reading the syllabus from my son’s Geometry class last night, and I was impressed by the last line which said, “I am committed to working with you to help you understand geometry and discover its beauty.” The teacher did not say, “You have to learn this for Algebra II”, or “The state says I have to teach you this stuff.” Discovering the beauty and interconnectedness of our world is important in children’s development as mature humans and is what makes us more than the animals (and by the way, by doing so, success on all those important tests and becoming ready for college and career will also be assured). Yesterday morning, at an elementary school, I walked into one of our kindergarten classes.
A man was leaving the room, obviously emotional with tears in his eyes.
We exchanged greetings, then as he was leaving, I asked the teacher if it was his first child to start kindergarten. She replied that it was not his first, but his last. That was pretty powerful.
We parents put the most important things in our lives in the hands of our schools and teachers, but also our hopes for the future and, in a way these milestones represent and remind us of the cycle of life.
We all attended our very first day of school sometime long ago, now our parents are older or passed on, and we are the parents and can’t help but think that in 20 years, today’s kindergartner will hug her own child and leave that child in the care of a teacher who will help the cycle begin again. Finally, at one of our middle schools yesterday, I spent some time speaking with a Watch D.O.G. S. (Dads of Great Students) volunteer. This gentleman is not an “official” educator (to my knowledge, he doesn’t have a teaching license), but he and hundreds like him are teachers just the same.
These volunteers provide a great male role model in an institution that is more female dominated (not that there is anything wrong with that, it just is) especially at the elementary and middle level.
In addition to that, they are cheerleaders for the incredible work that our teachers and administrators do on a daily basis.
I can write about their wonderful work every month, but when an “outsider” not employed by the schools starts singing the praises of his children’s teachers and schools, it makes a difference in the community’s perception.
By the way, I don’t mean to leave out the Moms and Grandparents who have always – and continue to be – the backbone of school volunteers; without them, school would be a much lesser place.
As you can see, there are many things to celebrate. You parents have blessed us with great kids and our community is fortunate to have dedicated educators to help them – in partnership with you - find their future. Best wishes for this 2013-14 school year.