Today’s Writing Prompt:
The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair.
Call To Arms (Brand New School Superintendent)
To Everyone Involved:
It’s no secret how bad things really are here. We lead in underachievment, but the culture of this environment leads us to do everything to cover it up and make everyone believe we are high achieving. No more. It stops here. Fixing this will have to be a grassroots effort. So here is what I propose we do.
We focus on too many students in each elementary school. We focus on too many students at the junior high. So I will establish two new middle schools of 5th and 6th graders.
This new success initiative will be established at the elementary school level. It needs to be engrained in students AND parents at an early age. We’re not talking about a change in curriculum or in teachers. What we’re talking about is a change in the culture among the students, teachers, and staff that mediocre is not acceptable when they have the ability to do better. The staff of each school will continue to teach and reinforce the same things they always have. Whenever there is a loss of responsibility on the part of the student, academic counselors will check in first with students, and then parents. Elementary schools will also include a generous dosage of fine arts education. You can not focus on academics alone.
In the new middle school, 5th and 6th graders will continue to be taught the academics and the responsibility of learning that began in elementary school. There will also be a continuation of the fine arts education. This will include beginning choir and band programs. The big addition to this middle school will be preparation for life beyond that school. It is no longer acceptable in today’s society to be behind the ball. Students must be prepared to excel in junior high and start to make choices that will affect their future. Do they have to pick a career that early? No. However, the foundation for their eventual path must be laid.
In junior high, the academic counselors will become more of what could be considered the homework police. These staff will intercede with students when responsibility is not enacted by the student. They will also stay in contact with parents, but at a lesser level than in elementary school. The purpose is to encourage and educate the student on how to police themselves. Academic rigors will continue to be enforced at this age. On the elective end, there will be a wide variety of fine arts available to the students. New in this age group will be the addition of career training. This will be the first major point for students to make a decision. In the world today, many people can and do make a decent living with career training and no official higher education. The purposes of the junior high career training program would be to enable a foundation of knowledge these students need to know to make the correct decisions once they reach high school. Career training will also focus on the beginnings of soft skills that business owners and managers across the country, and even world, say they see lacking more and more in the incoming workforce.
In high school, the responsibility is laid entirely to rest on the shoulders of the students. The homework police will be in full effect, serving in a policing roll, and also as a pseudo-conscious for the students. This is to continue to enforce the thinking needed to make the right decisions instead of the wrong ones. There will be three tracks available that students must have chosen from by the end of their freshman year. One will be a fine arts track. One will be an academic track. One will be a career track. In the career track, students will work towards obtaining certifications in different fields by the time of high school graduation. This includes cosmetology, welding, computers, etc. On the academic track, these students will have the most rigorous class schedule. Not only will the classes prepare them for college, but some of them will also be college credit. Done in a correct fashion, these students should be able to enter college as a sophomore. In the fine arts track, students could pursue college or pursue artistic careers, such as studio musician.
In the interim, middle, junior, and high schools will continue to operate as they always have. This new program of accountability among the students and parents will only be able to take hold at the root levels of the young age and the young in parenting. This new way of thinking…the new culture of communication and responsibility for all…will follow up the ladder all the way to 12th grade as the students who will occupy our elementary schools this following year of instruction start to move in to the upper schools. The middle school program of preparedness for 5th and 6th graders will begin in earnest the following school year, also. Programs that will be initiated as this current crop of students makes its way in to high school will also include a requirement for students to do a minimum of 10 hours of community service for graduation. Also, there will be a strong encouragement for these same students to take some classes in summer school. This will allow students to continue to have room in their schedule to participate during extra-curricular activities during the school year, as well as providing an opportunity to get ahead in general. I will also champion the cause of an alternative setting for high school students that provide self-paced classes for students for credit recovery, as well as for motivated students who wish to complete high school at a faster pace. This alternative setting should be established as soon as possible 1) to provide this chance for students now, and 2) to perfect the program by the time the students under this new culture arrive at this juncture.
It will be tough maintaining 2 completely different environments for 8 years. However, one of the environments is what is already there. Only one is new. While we will be building this new culture from the ground up with students and parents, we will rebuild and reteach teachers and staff at all levels beginning NOW to provide and participate in this new culture. This will produce the best results in the long run.