A NEW SPIRIT
I had the pleasure of addressing all of the new hires to the teaching staff of
our district. I have done this for
so many years that it has not been a speech that I spend any time preparing.
I tell them a little bit about our union; I invite them to a meeting to
put their benefit package in place; I talk briefly about my own personal joys as
a teacher in the district.
For the first time in many years, I went
to deliver my remarks with a new mission and, I must confess, a great deal of
excitement and pleasure. Sure, I
still welcomed them, still invited them to the benefit meeting, still reminisced
about the pleasures of teaching here, but I also spent considerable time talking
about how fortunate I thought they were to be beginning their careers in
Plainview-Old Bethpage at this moment of transition, transition to a time of
rising expectations for our students, to a time when academic standards were
becoming our focus and a consensus was emerging that we want to return our
district to a time when it was known as one of the best in the state and
colleagues from all over came to see the exciting, challenging academic things
we were doing. I asked them to
consider the extent to which the state standards arenít very high at all and
how all we will accomplish when we meet them is a uniform level of mediocrity.
I told them how proud I was that our union has been in the vanguard of
the movement for real academic excellence and invited each of them to contribute
their thoughts, energy and imagination to this very important enterprise.
conclusion of the welcoming speeches by all of the districtís notables, I had
the opportunity to speak face to face for the first time with Dr. Linda Bruno,
our Interim Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.
She picked up on my remarks to the group about this being an exciting
time in POB, talking very animatedly about her perception of the exhilarating
atmosphere here and her own enthusiasm to be a part of what she expects to be a
professionally rewarding stay in our district, her own sense that exciting
things are happening here.
I believe very deeply that the stars are almost perfectly aligned for our district to take a giant step forward. Iím not unmindful that what we are attempting to do is difficult if only because it will require changes that will unsettle some. But for the first time in a long while thereís a spirit here that I know is the harbinger of great things to come. When we succeed at academically challenging each of our students to the extent of their ability, we will free ourselves of the downward drag of the No Child Left Behind Law and an approach to the education of the young that has denigrated skills and knowledge for too long.
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