Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome Back for the 2013-2014 School Year

Well, it is the last weekend before teachers and students head back to school. I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone. It seems like just days ago that we were wishing the kids a good summer and watching them walk out the door. New school years always bring opportunities and challenges. Students make new friends, get used to the expectation of new teachers and adjust to the learning environments in new grades or schools.

Summers are an especially busy time for the custodial and maintenance staff in our buildings and I want to take this opportunity to recognize them for their hard work and dedication. With the departure of the students and staff our custodians finally have the time and flexibility for a deep cleaning of our buildings. Floors shined, walls and railings painted, our buildings have been given a fresh face for the school year. Yesterday I took a walk around through our buildings and I just want to say “THANK YOU” to our custodial staff for a job well done. The buildings look excellent and it matters to the staff, students and community.

As we look forward to what the 2013-2014 school year will bring I am excited about the opportunities I see before us here in Ludlow. All our schools now have wireless internet access and the purchase of over 700 Chromebooks for the district will give us access to the digital world like never before. We have reached the point in education that we must embrace the use of technology in the classroom. Students are used to interacting with the digital world and we cannot expect them to unplug when they enter our doors. Just like an electrical device, if we unplug students they will shut down. What we need to do is expand their thinking. Expose students to new concepts and ideas. Engage and nurture their passions and sense of wonder at the world around them. If we do that then we will foster creative thinkers ready to face the world outside our doors.

The greatest threat to creation of successful schools is mediocrity.  There is a natural tendency to trend towards the familiar; to continuing doing things the way they have always been done.  This road leads to mediocrity and it is an easy, alluring and dangerous path for educators. We must strive to reach the students who sit before us today. We must discover what motivates them as individuals and use this to stimulate their interest in the subject we teach. It is not enough to teach facts and concepts in isolation. As educators we must concentrate on higher order questioning, forcing students to develop and utilize problem solving skills to apply those facts to the world around them.

Over the course of the last year we have made significant progress in rebuilding and strengthening the relationships between staff and administration, as well as between the schools and the community here in Ludlow. I look forward to continuing our work over the course of this year. I am confident this will be a year of continued growth and I am looking forward to continuing our work together.