Letters to the Editor
Teacher of Year offers thoughts and thanks
Seven years ago, Yavapai County took a significant step in creating a foundation that would honor and recognize educators countywide. I had the privilege to be one of those recognized and awarded on May 4 by the Education Foundation of Yavapai County. I want to thank them along with Phi Delta Kappa International, Frontier Rotary, Prescott Rotary, Prescott Valley Rotary, Sun Up Rotary and Verde Rotary for their commitment to the education of our future generations. Teachers play a vital role to the future success of our communities and country. Every teacher, beginning with kindergarten, lays a foundation for the next teacher to build on and so on. Collectively, we all share this award each and every year as students move on from grade to grade.
One of the questions that the selection committee asked the nominees in the application process was: "What change(s) would you make in how our nation's schools are operated to make them more effective learning environments?"
I thought to myself, "What a great question," and it was one I was more than eager to answer. The following was my response:
Our nation's schools need to change as quickly as the business world changes. People complain about how money won't help improve schools, and this is true, if enough isn't given to the schools to do a proper job in the first place. In the world of business, we don't see six to seven people trying to use the same computer to get their jobs done. In some classrooms, there is only one computer for 28 students. Would a business be very successful operating in that capacity?
Employers need future employees that have real-life skills for the workplace. Standardized tests should be written and designed by business leaders, and students assessed on those skills. Nowadays, educators feel very pressured to "teach to the test." At least a test designed by businesses would allow us to teach material that would apply to skills useful in today's society.
I'm continuing my education and with it I discover new, or forgotten things. One of them is simulations. Child's play is one of pretend and simulating the adult world around them. Students love learning this way, because it is so close to what they do in play. Teaching the essential skills through simulation not only involves problem solving, but teamwork and people skills. These are some of the very skills employers say young people lack today.
However, existing standardized tests involve a recall of facts and knowledge mainly derived from textbooks. Is that the real world?
Schools need to operate with this key objective: prepare students to meet tomorrow's challenges. We must supply resources needed for this and teach accordingly.
I want to give my heartfelt thanks to Marcia Gatti-Smith, principal of Coyote Springs Elementary, for nominating me and encouraging new methods of teaching such as the use of technology in the classroom.
The use of computers helps students to increase and develop their thought process. They do this through their endeavor to understand how a system works as they use it to create a project or finished product. Through her support and Students First funds, I have been able to do this with my students along with my fellow team teacher, Tom Cotton.
Arizona has not ranked very high in our country in regards to education spending and paying its teachers. Thanks to voters passing Proposition 301, education in this state is taking the essential steps to provide a quality education to all. The Humboldt Unified School District has taken a huge step in the right direction.
I want to thank each and everyone responsible for setting a standard, through monetary provisions, that says education is respected and worth the price. Our school board president, Craig Sorenson, along with fellow board members, LaDawn Dalton, Barbara Jerrigan, John Beck, and Belinda Wofford deserve recognition and thanks for their many hours of intensive work to provide us with a substantial raise for next year.
Yavapai County Teacher of the Year 2001
HUSD puts 'frontline' employees first
I am pleased to report that you will benefit from actions taken recently on your behalf. At our last Humboldt Unified School District Governing Board meeting we voted to improve the wages of the front line employees in our district. These are the people who interact with your kids every day, and are responsible for what, and where, they learn. The majority of the funds for these raises is derived from the Prop. 301 monies allocated to us through a raise in the State sales tax. The remainder will be found by scrutinizing and prioritizing our own budget. We are placing the people that interact with our children first in line. This new level of reward brings with it a new set of expectations.
Every teacher in our District will be setting measurable goals, for their individual classrooms. Talk to your children's teachers, and get a feel for where we're going with this. The board will rely on the professionalism, innovation, and integrity of our teachers, to increase the achievement level of every child, every year. We will measure those academic skill levels, and we will show you new levels of success. Humboldt School District will meet your expectations for a top quality public education for your child.
We are committed to providing our community a first class education system. We need your help to do this. Everyone who wants a seat at the table needs to bring something to eat. We want to work with the Town of PV, our businesses, local developers, parents, teachers, and our neighbor school districts to set and achieve our mutual goals. We're ready to do our part. You can personally help HUSD with a donation of up to $250. If you paid Arizona income tax, you can pay us instead! Direct your tax dollars to a local school district that is dedicated to making something happen with your money. Ask anyone involved with the schools to explain this program to you. It is vital that we find this extra income.
Thanks for letting us know your thoughts and providing us with the needed resources. Your school board wants our standards to set the standards. We will grow to meet these new high standards as a community. Thanks for your support in the past. The next leg of the race starts now, and we expect your help when we hand you the baton.
HUSD Board President