Superintendent Viewpoint: It’s imperative that students love learningWanting students to love coming to school and love learning will ensure that we ignite a passion in all students that will carry them into their adult lives with the skills and attitudes to unleash their ultimate potential.
By: Keith Jacobus, South Washington County Bulletin
I am sitting outside on a beautiful summer day enjoying the activity of walkers, runners and outdoor enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes. I plan to read as much as I can before tackling the inevitable home improvement projects that are always calling. One month has passed since I began my new role in the district and I hope this finds you actively enjoying the summer months.
If you are a parent, I hope your children are active as well. Why? Because research on the effects of exercise and learning is compelling. Research shows that movement and exercise is essential for improved learning and is a simple way to prime the brain to learn. Our students and adults need exercise to maximize their potential as learners. Summer is a wonderful time for us to help our kids increase their activity and develop lifelong habits that will enhance their physical and intellectual well-being. Physical activities are also learning tools that will help us continue our strong academic achievement levels. With just over a month of summer vacation left, I hope you and your kids take full advantage of the time to run, jump and play.
As the first month progressed, I have begun meeting with district leaders and community members to help me learn about our school system and to gather perspectives on what is going well and what needs improvement. I am pleased with the responses gathered so far in terms of the passion and commitment to our organization. I quickly learned what wonderful students we serve and the high level of involvement in our schools from our parents and community members. I want to thank you for your support and help.
As we continue our efforts to improve, it is critical that we cultivate strong partnerships with our community members. Only through strong partnerships that capitalize on the collective wisdom we share, can we navigate the challenges that face us as we prepare students for the rapidly changing work force. One of my core beliefs is that collaborative decision-making is essential for success.
Although I am working to learn about our system as I begin my tenure as superintendent, I know it is important for our staff and community to learn about my vision for the South Washington County Schools. Through communication with you on our website and my monthly articles, I will elaborate on my beliefs and vision, but as a start I want to share some general thoughts on education and how my beliefs shape my approach to leadership and working to help all students succeed.
Michael Fullan is an educator and researcher who is respected throughout the world as a foremost expert on educational leadership and change. I recently heard him speak, and knowing of his earlier work, I highly respect his thinking and his success in helping to improve entire school districts. One of the questions Fullan asks is, “What is your personal ‘moral imperative’ for education?” I want to answer that question for you on what I believe my moral imperative for education is and why. The answer for me is that education will open the doors and fulfill the hopes and dreams of our students. In the simplest terms, I believe it is imperative for every student to love coming to school and to love learning. That simple but powerful belief drives me and is the foundation for how I lead.
You may be thinking that wanting kids to love coming to school neglects the need for rigorous content and high standards as a trade-off for inspiring students and cultivating their love of learning. In contrast, setting the stage for students to love school demands a compelling curriculum that is meaningful and connected to real-life problems. It demands policies and practices that support students and engages them in problem-solving and higher order thinking skills. It demands an approach from teachers and administrators that is innovative and personalized for our students. It demands measurable accountability to monitor progress.
And finally, it demands a culture in our system that is positive and welcoming for every student and adult who enters our buildings. Wanting students to love coming to school and love learning will ensure that we ignite a passion in all students that will carry them into their adult lives with the skills and attitudes to unleash their ultimate potential.
Thank you for the welcome to District 833. We can look forward to a very positive future for our students and for our community.
Jacobus is superintendent of South Washington County Schools.