Tomorrow dawns a new day for children across Sampson County as students from ages 4 through 18 return to classrooms in our two public school systems for another year. Private school students took their first steps into a new year a little while back now and are already deep into their studies.
This new school year offers new beginnings for each one of them, no matter their academic record, no matter their past history and no matter their previous attitude toward school or life itself.
Each child should begin this year with a clean slate; each parent should begin this year with a new determination to help their children succeed in every way they possibly can; and each educator should work diligently to allow every child to enter the classroom free from the prejudices of their past academic history. The focus should be on reaching them where they are and bringing them to a place they need to be in order for them all to succeed. After all, success for our young means success for us all.
For teachers to be able to achieve their goals, parents must understand the role educators play in the lives of their children and then allow them to fulfill that role. That means realizing that teachers are there to teach and to discipline when necessary. They aren’t meant to be babysitters; they aren’t meant to be their nurses and psychologists. They are there to teach our children, arming them with the tools they need to succeed in this fiercely competitive world.
Parents, too, need to understand the role they play in their child’s academic future. Be there for them. If they are young, read to them, call out spelling words to them, help them with their math. If they are older, show interest in their grades and extra-curricular activities, praise their achievements and listen to the reasons they have fallen short of their goals. Have high expectations and work with them to meet and exceed them. In all cases, be involved in their schools, talk with their teachers, show up at parent nights and conferences, even when the child likely would prefer it if you didn’t.
But the responsibility for a student’s academic success also rests squarely on the shoulders of young people. The youngest of them are the examples every other age group should follow. Pre-kindergartners and kindergartners, even first and second graders, seem to soak in everything they are told. Wide-eyed and innocent, these young boys and girls are eager to learn and eager to try new things. Their attitudes are great and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Even those youngsters who have difficult family lives seem to find great joy in the learning process.
Somewhere along the way, however, the spark dulls, the attitudes change and the desire to learn is often replaced by the desire to just get by. It doesn’t happen to every child, but unfortunately it is happening to more and more children from all socio-economic backgrounds and races.
We pray this year will be different for our youngest citizens.
Every child deserves a chance; every child deserves to be educated and placed on a path that can, if allowed, take them to heights they may never even have imagined.
Not every child will become the CEO of a company, practice medicine or chose the law as a career path, but every single one of them can succeed at something given the opportunity and, of course, if they are willing to utilize that opportunity.
Most importantly, care for them and remind them of the importance of education.
If we all do our part, it can be a recipe for academic success and this can be the very best school year each student has had.
Let’s commit ourselves to helping students achieve their academic success. Together we can make a difference in the lives of children, and making a difference in their lives makes a difference in our own.