We’ve started the school year with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
As I’ve often shared, the work our staff is engaged in is so much more than simply having kids enjoy school. While that is important, we must remember that our mission is to prepare students for success in life after their pre-kindergarten-to -12th-grade career.
I believe strongly that the success of our community is dependent upon our success as an educational community. While some of our students will go off into other parts of the state and country, it is clear that many will return to Durango to continue to grow and sustain our way of life.
At our school board meeting Aug. 25, we hosted a number of community business leaders who spoke about their thoughts on our workforce and how we as a district can better prepare students for success.
Almost unanimously, these business leaders spoke of the importance of character. Our employers are looking for employees who never give up, are trustworthy, treat others with respect, take responsibility for quality work, work with others collaboratively and are able to communicate with others effectively.
While academics are important, many spoke of the fact that they could train employees if they possessed the character and drive to be successful. While as a school district we count on our families to help instill some of these skills, it is necessary that we look at how we can do more.
While we all love our children, it is important that they recognize their part in achieving their own future success. It is easy to rescue our kids when things get rough. Allowing our kids to quit an activity that is difficult teaches them how not to persevere. Supporting our kids through failure does not mean making excuses or seeking to blame another source, but encouraging them to learn from their mistakes and try again. Excusing our kids from school for reasons other than illness or family emergency creates habits and standards that may be hard to break when they become young adults.
It is incumbent upon each of us to think about how we model character for our children. “Do as I say, not as I do” simply doesn’t work with children. It’s often hard when we see our children pick up our habits. Whether it is language, smoking, attitude or driving habits, we teach through action. If our children hear us challenge accountability, what message does that send? When outside rules don’t apply, can our own rules and expectations mean anything?
As we begin this new school year, our staff members will continue to focus on quality instruction while increasing our efforts at instilling in our students critical character traits, which includes abilities to work with others, use critical thinking, solve problems, persevere through challenge, demonstrate respect for others and communicate effectively.
DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us. Dan Snowberger is the superintendent of the Durango School District.