Growing up a Cavalier – I always had the utmost respect for those in authority. Well, almost always. There was that time when I showed off in second grade and made a gesture to my lunch girl, Sarah, that I didn’t even know what it meant. It did not matter if I was showing off for my friends; it was not one of my better days. My mother, who taught in the district at the time, taught me a really good lesson about that right away. If you read this Sarah, please know I am very sorry for that unkind gesture – I had no idea what I was doing. Outside of that I don’t think I ever directly showed disrespect to anyone in authority over me as a student. That lesson stuck with me. I was certainly no angel, but I was taught from a very young age to respect my elders. It was expected of me. And if I ever forgot that lesson (which like anyone I did from time to time) my mother and a bar of Dial soap were able to remind me of what was appropriate and what is not. Things were much easier back in those days.
Today our children are inundated with images and words that are inappropriate. During my childhood about the strongest language a child would hear on TV was Potsy telling Ralph Malph to “sit on it.” In 2016 a child can see and hear very graphic images and language that is not only impolite and inappropriate, but there is plenty of language that is hateful and violent. The modern media comes at our kids day and night from many different sources and more destructive ways than ever before. Whether it is music, movies, television, netflix, or online there is far more inappropriate content for our kids to see and hear. We’ve become so permissive that like me in the 2nd grade, they do not always even realize what is and what is not appropriate.
All this makes the life of a public educator pretty challenging. So in the CCSD we emphasize the very simple idea of Respect. We try to teach our students to Respect themselves, to respect others, and to respect their school. Whether they are online, in class, in the hallways, the cafeteria or the field of competition we try to remind them of this simple idea of Respect. We all make mistakes and from time to time there are consequences for those mistakes. Our idea is not to punish our way to improving behavior, but to model it and use positive reinforcement to encourage it. We hope the entire Chillicothe community will model this for our kids – for if we do, we CAN make a difference for not just our classrooms or our schools, but for our entire community. Thanks to everyone who models RESPECT in Chillicothe everyday. And once again, Sarah, you were a great lunch hostess – I hope you’ve forgiven me!
As we approach the holiday season I hope you’ll consider the words of one of my favorite artists – Stevie Wonder – and what this song has to say what we need more of today!
As a career educator, I continue to learn. I continue to grow and look for ways to improve myself, my district, and my profession as a whole. Being that many of us are very visual, my team and I put this model together. In our district we are about to literally break ground on two new elementary buildings. But in all actuality we’ve been building our school district for several years now. After a review of our district a couple years ago by an outside firm and after a visit to an exemplar district who has made amazing improvements in the past ten years we have come up with our “formula” for SYSTEMIC EXCELLENCE.
This “formula” is based on 5 major beliefs with the foundational belief being in doing what is best for kids. If our decision-making process is not embedded in that fundamental core belief then none of our other beliefs, actions, or processes will matter. There is no substitute for this first belief.
The pillars of SYSTEMIC EXCELLENCE are accountability, relationships, high expectations, and using data to drive our decisions when it comes to instructional practices. We have seen these beliefs in other school districts and it is our belief that if we can focus our efforts to improve on these beliefs we will indeed have success. The challenge for us is avoiding the distractions that are caused by being pulled in so many different directions because of the many other challenges that we face.
Good leadership is imperative towards reminding others of our beliefs, and more importantly ensuring not simply that we believe certain things, but that we DO certain things. As we work to build a better Chillicothe School SYSTEM, we must commit our minds to the beliefs and our bodies to the actions that will help our students be successful.