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 Superintendent's Message

Messaging Student Success01
September 2014
With all the competition for the attention of young people, it’s seems nearly impossible for our students to hear what we are saying to them through the din of everything else. Advertisers are ubiquitous in every medium and there are now seminars on how to increase ‘addictive usage’ of applications and devices. Most young people have all the tools today—smart phones, social networks, text messages—and even when they’re in groups07 someone is always monitoring her/his smartphone. So parents, school staff and the community have an especially challenging time in getting or holding the attention of young people. Yet, as school starts, there are three messages about learning that we must bring to each of our students:

This is important;
You can do it;
I won’t give up on you.

This is Important

While02 our children and students want to do well in school, they struggle with priorities. What success in school brings seems far into the future while many feel they get their immediate needs met by focusing on just about anything else. We have to tell them in every way we can that school is important; attending is important; paying attention in class is important; doing the work, even when it’s boring, is important; asking questions is important; completing the practice work that teachers send home is important; studying for tests is important, and keeping track of progress is important.

You Can Do It

Learning is hard work and not all learners get it at the same time, or in the same way, or with the same 03 amount of effort. With all our students, we need to constantly affirm the message “You can do it.” Students who believe in themselves and who know that hard work is what makes them successful, are not only successful in school, they also do well outside of school and in the workplace, too. Underneath the message “You can do it” is a foundational belief that effort and persistence are, by far, the most important qualities in any endeavor.

I Won’t Give Up on You

05 The third message is the most important. “I won't give up on you” means that even if our students fail the first 20 times they try, we'll continue to provide support and encouragement. The “I” in “I won’t give up on you” is crucial. Students need to know that they have adults in their lives who won’t discard or abandon them as learners. Every academically successful child or young person has at least one—and usually more than one—adult who absolutely, positively won’t give up on him or her.

There are lots of ups and downs in learning. Set-backs are common. Students can do something one day that they can't do the next. 09 Our young people don't always act the way we want them to behave. At times, they can be very difficult or even defiant. Some tell us they don't care in both words and deeds. Some students would rather get in trouble for their behavior in class than let anyone 06 know they can't read. So this is the most difficult of the three messages. Yet, it's vital to our students' success. It's crucial that we—teachers, parents, community members—don't give up on them. We have to consistently and persistently give them the message “I won't give up on you” in what we say and all we do.

08 So as we start the 2014-15 school year, the key messages are the same as last year and will be the same next year:

• This is Important.
• You Can Do It.
• I Won't Give Up on You.


Bruce Harter



To read more, please visit the: Superintendent's Message Archive