Let's Celebrate Kansas' Great Public Schools
Karen Godfrey - Tue 08:26 AM 11/13/2012
American Education Week (AEW) was first celebrated in 1921. Sponsored by the National Education Association, American Legion, PTA and other organizations, AEW gives Americans an opportunity to celebrate public education and the difference it makes in the lives of children. I have the privilege of visiting with Kansas National Education Association members across the state and always leave their schools impressed and grateful for their dedication and commitment. As we celebrate AEW on November 11 through 17 this year, I’d like to applaud a few examples of the exemplary work I see from our KNEA members.
At Prairie Hills Middle School in the Buhler district, Chris Sillin is committed to encouraging out-of-class reading. Her classroom features Starbooks Café, where students can gather to read and purchase a cup of hot chocolate, cappuccino, hot apple cider or tea. Students also learn community service by donating the proceeds at the end of the year.
Elementary teachers in Emporia devote additional planning time to collaboration and making sure that their students get daily instruction at their particular skill level. Students of all ages know where they are supposed to go for the tailored instruction and transition from room to room quickly to enthusiastically embark on the next learning activity.
Every year, at Pittsburg High School, Greg Shaw takes his students’ theater work to new levels. He engages students and the community in an exploration of a social justice issue through research and theater performances throughout the community. This year the focus will be dating violence and dysfunctional relationships.
Over the summer Christie Sander prepared to teach her students in Victoria to use iPads to practice math problems in class, turn in their homework, and easily access information from the Internet to solve problems. Everyone, students and teachers alike, is energized and committed to using this tool to its maximum potential.
At Reno Valley Middle School, teachers led by Steve Lehmann have built a model after-school program. With tutoring available, games and activities most nights, and a colorful and inviting room with artwork prominently displayed, this is the place to be! A school garden is one of the concrete and useful results of their efforts.
Claudia Shover-Daily’s special education students at Topeka High eat lunch together and interact through Special Opps, an organization that provides special opportunities allowing all students to grow together. All students benefit from her tireless devotion to her students.
At the School of New Beginnings in Lansing, Robin Crim looks for engaging activities to motivate her students. Her elementary students learn science by growing lima beans under different variables and comparing their progress. The small class size provides each child the chance to develop at a pace that allows him or her to transition back to a standard school setting.
These examples are just a snapshot of the effective work of teachers and schools across the state. Kansas students thrive when they have dedicated and talented teachers. They thrive when their schools have the resources to offer rich learning opportunities. And they thrive when their teachers are treated as professionals and are supported by their administrations and their communities. KNEA advocates for these conditions for all of our schools, students, and teachers.
As we look to the future of our public schools, let’s focus on the accomplishments across the state. Take time to learn what matters in education. Visit a school or talk to an educator about public schools today. Let others know—through PTA, civic groups, and neighborhood gatherings—the great things happening in our schools. Kansans are proud of their schools for good reasons. Let’s all work together to keep it that way.