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Something to Think About: Welcome to Another School Year!

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn


michael_vaughn2That time of year is upon us, the time where children prepare to take on another school year. This time of year is full of opportunities for children, parents, and teachers alike. When a school year begins, there is a sense of newness, and the ability to overcome whatever struggles students have faced the previous year. It’s an opportunity to do better, and achieve more!

Teachers can be more creative, in initiating the learning process; parents can be more attentive to the educational needs of children; and students can set goals to reach far beyond their previous achievements.

I realize, for some (and maybe most) students, this is a time of dread. Students usually enjoy their time off, being away from the classroom, doing homework, and going to bed at a decent hour, etc. However, if we present to students a different take on what is before them, that dread can be turned into excitement. Learning is, indeed, fundamental, and one of those things which, once we have grasped it, cannot be taken away from us. Therefore, if we endeavor to be a sponge, and learn all we can, we will enable ourselves to go even further, and do even more.

There are many, many issues with many public schools in our country, mainly in our urban centers (including Rochester), which hinder the learning process. However, there are also teachers, and administrators, who have been committed to teaching children new things which will take them further than they may have ever imagined.

While the problems are real, the opportunities are also real, and that has to be our focus. The educational process must be presented to students in a manner which will motivate them to overcome the obstacles they have perceived to come along with learning, which include structure, discipline, etc. This process should not be allowed to devolve into a bunch of adults pushing an agenda, but should stay one which has the best interests of students at its core. If that would happen, I believe the problems facing education would be much easier to overcome.

This is also a time for parents and guardians to step up their game for children. They should take the sides of teachers and administrators when it comes to educating their children. Logic dictates, while some may be motivated by money, most teachers are motivated by the desire to see a young person’s eyes light up when they’ve learned a new principle. Therefore, when there have been disagreements between students and teachers, parents should not automatically take the sides of their children. They should, instead, find out what happened, then determine the truth.

And, in the process, parents should keep the conversation between teachers and administrators private, once the student has shared his or her side of the story. Adults should also be unified, as parents disrespecting teachers and administrators in front of their children will only give children license to do the same, which is neither good for students and parents, nor teachers!

As this school year begins, parents should also step up their game. Be sure to monitor what your child is doing, in order to ensure he or she is getting the best education possible. Even when the masses may not want to learn, or the system makes it hard; parents should do their part to make sure children learn.

The beginning of the school year is a time for new beginnings. Opportunities abound, and we have many choices before us, regarding how we will deal with those opportunities. We can waste them, and slide back into the same mold which has plagued some city schools, parents, teachers and students for years, or; we can look at the glass as being half full. We can take the many choices in front of us, and decide, this year, we are going to make the most of them. We should not look to blame, hurt, or demean anyone. We should keep moving forward, and do what the educational process has been designed for us to do, learn and grow!

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