School has started for New York’s 2.6 million public school children. Consider the possibilities and what this represents for students.
This is the first year that pre-K or kindergarten students will ride the bus and attend elementary school. Today’s kindergarten class is the graduating class of 2032. For high school seniors, this is the last 10 months of a 13-year journey of learning and discovery and preparing for the next step in life whether that may be post-secondary education, a career, or the armed services. For others, this may be the first year they will read a book, master math concepts, play a sport or instrument, meet a lifelong friend or future spouse, or discover a hidden talent or passion.
The next 10 months will take our students as far as they want to go. It is up to us, as adults, to challenge them and make sure they seize this extraordinary opportunity and privilege to learn.
Everyone has a stake in the success of local schools and students. So, let’s work together to foster an environment conducive to achievement for every student, no matter his/her background, interest or ability.
Let’s explore and employ innovative teaching methods and work with county agencies to address increasing student needs and mental health concerns. In an age of higher expectations, students can no longer afford to fall behind – or move forward without a solid foundation for future learning.
Let’s provide extra help to those struggling to read or write, knowing that these are foundational skills that will last a lifetime; recommend career and technical education (CTE) to students with a skill, talent or interest in a particular field; challenge seniors to take a full course load to prepare for college and solidify their knowledge; and, partner with business and higher education to expand learning opportunities.
And let’s partner with parents and caregivers. They are vital in setting the stage and expectations for success. They can help their children succeed in school by:
- talking with them about their experiences and praising efforts, helping to build a sense of competence and confidence;
- communicating with teachers about their child’s performance, interests or concerns;
- setting academic expectations and achievable goals, including helping to plan a schedule so they learn to balance schoolwork with other responsibilities and activities;
- instilling self-discipline by teaching them to think first before acting on impulse and to think about the consequences of their actions (particularly online); and,
- encouraging participation in extracurricular activities to help develop a more well-rounded individual.
Collaboration is the cornerstone to successfully delivering on the promise of a public education. By putting students first and doing together what cannot be done alone, we will make a difference in the lives of the most precious capital in our schools – our students.
The start of a new school year represents hope for a better future and the ability to change a life…and make a difference in the world. It is a new beginning for students to learn, get inspired and explore the possibilities of a lifetime – from learning acceptance and tolerance and leadership to revealing talents and how to overcome adversity. After all, public education is a great equalizer and the foundation of our democracy.
-Dr. Gladys I. Cruz