Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ready, Set, Go! First Day of School


Ready, set, go! It is time once again to start a new school year. In less than a week, our students, teachers, parents, and community will begin their 2012-2013 educational journey. Along that road will be opportunities that we could not even fathom a decade ago. Students will walk into state-of-the-art school buildings with wireless connectivity, chat with classrooms of other learners from around the world, assess themselves on computer-based software that individualizes their educational experience, and have learning facilitated by world-class educators. The possibilities for our children in Oconee County are truly endless, and I am excited to watch their growth and development over the next ten months.

John Dewey, arguably the most influential thinker on education in the twentieth century, wrote in 1934 that “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” On August 8 our schools will open their doors to students, and those students will breathe life and learning into our hallways once again. If you have driven past our schools in the past few weeks, then you are already seeing the signs of that life. Our band programs and fall athletic teams are on the fields beginning their preparation for the season. Teachers’ cars are pulling into the parking lots for training and classroom preparation, and maintenance and operational personnel are concluding renovations, remodeling, and improvements on our educational facilities. It is a busy and exciting time!

Yet, as we enter the normalcy of another school year, we do so with the understanding that all outstanding organizations and entities morph and adapt over time. Our educational process, while consistently similar in many ways to the experiences of those who have long since completed their formal education, is experiencing much change. This school term will see the implementation of the Common Core standards for English and mathematics in almost all states across our country. These standards reflect increased academic rigor and further focus on the specific knowledge needed for the leaders of tomorrow. Locally, our system continues to grow as we look to serve approximately 6,600 students, who make up nearly 20 percent of Oconee County’s total population. We, however, stand ready to meet these challenges and welcome our students for another successful year of learning.

Reflecting on the first day of school brings me to this week’s questions. What do you hope the first day of the 2012-2013 school year brings for your student(s)? Do you have a memory of one of your first days of school that you would like to see replicated or forgotten? If so, please share those experiences, thoughts, and ideas with me at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.

I look forward to the first day of school and to your thoughts about what that day should look like for our students.

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