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Inspiring Students to Learn, Lead, and Serve

A Rich Educational Experience

A Rich Educational Experience

The focus of this article is what a rich educational experience is and how we make sure our children receive it.

The best educational experiences begin at home. Parents/families are the first and most important teachers a young person ever has. Children look to their parents as role models about everything in life. Parents teach children their values, beliefs, and character traits. Parents are role models who teach children how to be a good (or bad), worker, spouse, parent, son/daughter, sibling, and human being. Through a parent’s direct teaching, influence, and his/her behavior, a young person begins to and continues to shape who he or she becomes as a person. While I can write longer about the importance of parents, I will move on to the formal educational institution.

A truly rich educational experience begins with pre-school. Once a luxury, a pre-school education has become a necessity. There is much research about the value of pre-school. Studies find that preschool education produces persistent gains on achievement test scores, along with fewer occurrences of grade retention and placement in special education programs. Other long-term benefits from preschool education include increased high school graduation rates and decreased crime and delinquency rates.

Recent research has shown that preschool education is a sound investment—academically, socially, and economically. There are studies that demonstrate that preschool education results in academic and other benefits. These studies identified several long-term economic benefits of early education, finding that both former preschool participants and taxpayers can benefit from investments in preschool education. For example, former preschool participants were less likely to cost taxpayers money in the long term for such public services as

  • Schooling—Participants were less likely to be retained in grade or placed in special education.
  • Welfare—As adults, participants were more likely to get better jobs and earn more money.
  • The criminal justice system—Participants were less likely to break laws or participate in other delinquent acts. (Educational Leadership, April 2003)

The K-12 experience should be one in which students have the opportunity to explore, discover, and develop their talents. The experience should be rich with content and curriculum that includes the core academic disciplines of math, language arts, science, and social studies. But the core academic disciplines are not enough to truly prepare students for the 21st century. The K-12 experience must include education in “encore” disciplines like the fine and applied arts (music, art, technology…), world languages, physical education, business and so forth. Students need opportunities to challenge themselves through Advanced Placement courses, College Credit Plus Options, gifted programs, on-line classes, career technology programs and other advanced and specialized offerings.

The next generation of workers need to become expert thinkers, complex communicators, and effective problem-solvers. Organizations and businesses need workers who are creative and innovative and through the K-12 experience we need to teach students how to unleash their creativity and innovation. Students need more than “just the basics” to be successful now and in the future. They need an educational experience that stretches them and challenges them if we expect them to become successful. We need to invest in a curriculum that is going to ensure that our students are competitive with their peers locally and globally.

The curriculum and the content is only part of the story. Good teachers are the most essential element in making the K-12 educational experience a rich one. To support the kind of learning that is vital to student success, we need teachers who are experts in their content, dedicated to the craft of teaching, and passionate about their students and the work. We are fortunate to have those kinds of teachers in the Wickliffe Schools. We must continue to support their efforts, hold them to high expectations, and to invest in them as an investment in good teachers will pay big dividends for our students.

Finally, education beyond high school is essential. All young people must continue their education beyond the halls of Wickliffe High School. This is not to say that all students need to attend a four-year college. It does mean that there is an expectation in every job and career that employees continue to update their skills, develop new skills, and be ready, willing and able to learn and grow throughout their career. Education beyond high school may mean a college degree, it may mean advanced technical training, it may mean specialized skill training, and it may mean advanced training through their workplace. No matter what it means to each individual it is important that we make sure that young people understand that learning and “schooling” never ends.

The mission of the Wickliffe Schools is to inspire students to Learn, Lead, and Serve. To achieve that ambitious mission it will demand that our students receive the rich educational experience about which I write above. Ensuring that all students have a rich educational experience is the responsibility of all of us. Please join us in providing that experience to all of the students of the Wickliffe Schools.

Thank you for your continued support.