because learning goes beyond the classroom.
Although we don’t often like to admit it, success is often framed as married, 2.5 children, big house, nice car and a well paying job. What if we were to reimagine success as a whole for our students? This would include a success model which meets each student where they are, gives and explains options and most importantly creates a path to their own personal success. I believe in a 3 pronged approach to educating our students and preparing them to be the best adults that they can be. This 3 pronged approach looks like integrating AVID for actual college readiness, Pathways because we understand that higher education is not for all youth and lastly, this looks like REAL LIFE readiness. When we are working to enable each student in their strengths, interests and areas of life which they will undoubtedly face we are properly raising & educating adults.
While mental health has always been present, the pandemic and subsequent quarantines at home have shed even more light on an ever present issue. When success is ReImagined, it allows each student to become more than just a number, test score, AP class, GPA or admission letter. In efforts to start with the change at home, my husband and I volunteered to spend a recent Saturday in a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training which was hosted by the First District PTA. This class was not only informational but so timely for what this year has brought. It has helped us to open lines of communication with our teens, their friends and allow loving caring guidance through tough situations. Questions I have considered after experiencing 4 yrs. of High School Parenting: Is taking every AP class healthy? How are we teaching our children/youth to balance work and needed rest? Are children chasing that beloved “grade” at any cost? How does this affect cheating, risk taking, substance abuse and poor socialization? These are the questions I would like to work with fellow board members to address.
Advocacy in the technology age can be difficult. I believe that we should be empowering our children/youth to advocate for themselves, their needs and thier concerns. There is power in being able to both speak your truth and also ask for what is required. When we can implement systems to begin advocacy appropriately at younger ages, we then empower our students to further advocate for not only themselves and their peers, but for others and their communities. This type of model would improve/increase earlier engagement in early adulthood and transition through to adulthood.
Advocacy isn’t just for our youth because when we are working as a full team we are able to help parents advocate for the needs of their children just as our Teachers Union does for the needs of our wonderful teachers.
Unity & Diversity:
This topic has been at the top of so many news hours and rightfully so. How do we shift mindsets to ensure that we are truly empathizing with the individual experiences of each and every student. I belive in a three pronged approach which would implement multiple pieces to support the main goal of a more inclusive learning environments for all. This would start with additional training such as that which the District has implemented for the upcoming year. This would be followed by schools facilitating student boards to discuss what is being said, heard and observed throughout campuses. These concerns would then be discussed among the students with facilitating teachers to brainstorm solutions. Lastly, this would look like the implementation of a “See Something, Say Something” type of system. This system would allow for not only the anonymous communications but provide the ability for issues to be addressed timely. We need to question what environments may be for our students when they are often unwilling to speak up for others experiencing bullying, name calling and additional forms of harassment.
What does true support look like? It varies from situation to situation and person to person. But the the largest building block which I would like to improve is support. This support would be for all involved parties: students, teachers, staff and parents.
Students need to know that there are countless people cheering them on and in their corner. This may look like counselors reaching out to brainstorm education goals beginning as freshman, to peer to peer tutoring or monthly life groups within elementary/middle schools. These times that our children are growing in are not the same as 10 or even 5 years ago. We need to start thinking outside the box to ensure that our students are recieving all they need.
Teachers are truly unsung heroes. To take on the job of teaching, is to make a commitment to something greater than self. The question always remaining “How can we Support them?” When teachers are working within a system of support from Parents, Administration and District Staff there is a sense that we are all taking part in the raising of our most prized posessions. Support can look like proactive communications from parents opening lines of communication. It looks like PTA’s, PTSA’s, professional development when needed, school & district leadership councils and parent involvement with the understanding that these wonderful people are often pouring more time into our children in a year then we are able to.
Parents, we need the support as well. Communications when something is off or not quite wrong. Open lines and available discussions when there are concerns. When I think about our struggles with Crisis Learning I am reminded that I am not a teacher and have very little knowledge of AP Physics, but I am reminded of when I attended parent forums, trainings and informational classes for parents while in middle school. I am reminded of the Social Media Watchout presentation that I attented to keep me “Hip & Up to Date” with what apps the kids are using and what they do. Yes, this most definitely takes time, investment and the willingness of parents to attend, but I believe that when we can all support each other we are really not just educating our children but we are enabling them to learn.
While one of my favorite truths is that team work makes the dream work; yet I am even more invested in the older adage that it takes a Village.
I have had some pretty amazing villages and now I would like to be a part of yours.