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I have given considerable thought regarding what topic should be shared in my first communication as superintendent of Grant County Schools. My first idea was to share how much I appreciated the opportunity to return home and lead this great district. Then, I debated several hot topics in education today: college and career readiness standards, 21st Century skills, or even, of local interest, our new Career and Technical Education facility.
My decision, however, was to center my first communication on the most important component of our school district: our students. Our kids are living in the most challenging of times as young learners. Knowledge and information are easily accessible and there seems to be more of it available than we know how to handle. The unsure economy and the challenging home dynamics present the appearance of unsure ground. The expectations for post-secondary learning and the need to make career decisions on an individual learning plan in middle school can be very overwhelming to a 13-year-old. Some of our kids are getting the message that their value as a person will be determined by how well they may perform on a given assessment. In addition, their performance on this assessment may determine their future! All these components really add to the stress and pressure felt by our young people.
With all this in mind, I believe students should drive our thinking and our decisions. Our programs, policies and initiatives must have student success as the goal, but student success should not be limited only to academic accomplishment. Our kids should learn how to be responsible and how to conduct themselves through positive behavioral supports. They need to know how to make difficult choices in tough situations. They need to see strong character examples from every adult in this school district. Our kids need to believe that every adult in the Grant County School District respects them as individuals and wants the best for their future. With students at the center of our thinking, curriculum, assessment and instruction will be meaningful and relevant to our students.
We know students come in all shapes, sizes and bring with them a myriad of packages. Regardless of what package they may bring, they must be valued the same. The direction and encouragement that is required can be very demanding on educators. As educators we embrace this demand as a component of our high calling.
I am proud, humbled and honored to be the superintendent of Grant County Schools. It will be our mission as educators, families and communities to work together to empower our students to meet the challenges that they now face.
(Ron Livingood is the superintendent of Grant County Schools. He may be reached at 824-3323.)