Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Proud to be a Pioneer: What Kind of Schools Do We Want?

The last 45 years for me have been spent in schools. From Clare to Alma College, a couple of districts in western Pennsylvania, two districts in southern Michigan, and back to Clare…you may get a kick out of the fact that I’ve been around that long and never really left! I’ve had jobs on the farm, with small businesses, and worked in many different places, but I’ve consistently been involved in schools as a student, aide, bus driver, teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent…not to mention as a parent. It seems I can’t get away!

I had a friend ask me recently why I want to do this? He went on about legislative interference, rules and regulations that make no sense, and our changing demographics. After listening to him, I wondered “why” myself. But my answer is this: I want kids, adults, and everyone in our schools to have some of the wonderful experiences I’ve had. Oh, my life and career in schools hasn’t been perfect, but I can trace most of the bad experiences right back to me, myself and I. Whether as an adult or kid, my failures have been met by people picking me up and dusting me off often before I even hit the ground. When I’ve been fortunate to succeed, it’s happened as a result of supportive teammates and classmates, encouragement abounding, and people all around with high expectations.

That’s the thing about great schools – you can’t escape high expectations. They are everywhere: for your effort, for your behavior, for your achievement, for your ability to work with others, for your ability to recover when you fail…AND the expectations in great schools are high for EVERYONE! But the most important actions we take are what we do when we see others succeed, and what we do when we see others fail. These are the central actions in great schools.

Many people get trapped by what society thinks and does. Fortunately, I was born with a questioning mind…but it’s also a trait that has been further ingrained in me by great teachers. Why do we do things this way? Why does the research sometimes get ignored? Why do we rescue others from a good lesson? Why don’t we change if we’re not happy with the results?

Which leads me to this article. What kind of schools do we want? Have you thought about this? Now is a pivotal time in our communities. As we press ahead with a bond issue that will determine, in part, what kinds of facilities we educate our kids in…ask yourself the question again, what kind of schools do we want?

I’ll get you started. I’d like schools I’m associated with to exhibit:
•Everyone giving great effort.
•We show others we care, we demonstrate compassion and empathy.
•We are resilient problem solvers.
•We have the future in mind…we don’t kick the can down the road to future generations.
•We listen to each person’s story, and work to understand.
•We build facilities and programs that tell kids we believe great things are possible for them…”good enough” is not for us.
•We develop people of integrity (regardless of age).

I’ll bet many of the messages above are simply reinforcing what you teach in your homes and how you operate your businesses. We can do powerful things together. Be a part of our future by voting on November 7th. Thanks for all you do to make Clare a great place to live and learn.

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