Friday, August 17, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Look out for kids

During the summer, the state commended one area school — Arnold Drive Elementary — for its outstanding performance and chastised four others — Murrell Taylor and Harris elementary schools, Jacksonville High School and Cabot’s Academic Center for Excellence — for poor performances.

But Monday is a new day and a new year.

Arnold Drive has a new principal and Henry Anderson is now in his second full year of righting the wrongs at JHS and things are bright, cheery and clean. And parents may be just as excited, if not more so, than the students.

For students, school means seeing old friends, making new friends, and in the back of their minds, they also know it’s about gaining knowledge.

For parents, they get to take a break from entertaining their children, get some much needed rest and focus more on their careers.

The key to making this a good school year in Cabot, Lonoke, Ward, Austin, Beebe, Carlisle, Jacksonville and Sherwood is simple — be involved.

The student needs to be involved, parents need to be involved and teachers, staff and principals need to be involved. Students need to try. The neat thing is that on Monday morning, walking through those school doors, every student is a straight A student, and the only ones who can change that are the students themselves.

Elementary teachers are changing the way they teach and students will benefit by it. Across the state, common core standards are coming in, meaning the focus will be more on the whole student and the ability to see how all things relate, rather than test focus, test focus, test focus.

Parents, after your short happy dance that the kids are back in school, your job will be to quiz them about school daily and quiz the teachers. The more you know about your school, the more you can help and make sure the school focus stays on educating students.

Teachers, staff and principals have spent the last week or so in professional development sessions and have received their marching orders. Unshackled from the No Child Left Behind restrictions, they are to go forth and give parents and students what they want: a life sustaining education.

Victor Hugo said it best, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

Some schools have already started, and for the rest, the school doors will be opening Monday.