As the days of summer draw to a close and we anxiously await the arrival of our students and teachers, I am once again reminded that each new school year provides a fresh start for all involved in the educational process. All educational stakeholders look to the new school year knowing that they have a blank slate to record a time of success, change, challenge, difficulty, humor, exploration, and relationships. A colleague reminded me recently that the field of education is one of the few professions where those involved have the opportunity to truly begin again each September. By looking at what we do with a sense of optimism and opportunity our students may realize their potential. Each individual needs to complete this phase of their educational experience in a manner that will provide them with the tools needed to take the next step in their journey as life-long learners.
We have much to deal with to come into compliance with federal and state initiatives. Response to Intervention, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, Gifted and Talented programs, Special Education Regulations, the Race To The Top program, the expectations of the No Child Left Behind legislation and meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, as well as how to use technology in the classroom are just some of the issues that schools must prepare for.
While addressing the many issues that are required of us we must not forget that we are, first and foremost, an institution of high learning. The most critical things that we do take place in the classroom during the interactions between teachers and students. Learning opportunities take place everyday and those very precious moments can not be wasted. The world that our kids will be stepping into is changing rapidly. To be prepared for that changing world, our students must build a foundation that will be sturdy enough to support their futures, while being expansive enough to allow for adaptation and change. The most important ingredient in this educational aggregate is effective learning. T.H. White says it best in The Once and Future King,
"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn . . . "is to learn something. This is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, . . . you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then --- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you."
I look forward to a new school year, and may the learning begin.