A Reflective Moment
This past week, we once again celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week, an annual event that reminds us of the importance of teachers in our own lives. As I reflect on the honorable work of educators in Portland and across the United States, I cannot help but consider not only the enormous influence teachers had on my own life but the millions of teachers all over this country who have fostered, in their students, a life altering passion for learning and growing. Surely, I consider so many of my own teachers’ actions pivotal to my decision to choose public education as a lifelong career, and can recollect, like they were yesterday, many prominent moments that originated from my teachers’ natural propensity to foster my passions as a learner. I remember the simple science lesson that had me planting marigold seeds with my second grade teacher and then transplanting these growing seedlings into what would be the first of many flower and vegetable gardens that I would cultivate at each of my homes. I recollect, with a clear visual image, the transfixed attention I gave my grade four teacher as she read to us, each afternoon, books of many genres, as we pleaded with her to forget the afternoon lessons and continue reading. Undoubtedly, this had a significant positive influence on my own struggling ability to read myself. I recall being enthralled with our classroom aquarium in grade 6, which ultimately lead to my inclination to have an aquarium wherever I lived and/or worked including a 150-gallon behemoth in my former office that transfixed every child and adult who ever stepped in to speak with me. I will never forget my middle school shop teacher (oddly enough) who understood my passion for animals and who years later brought me to Florida to tag sea turtles with his family’s environmental group each summer during my high school years. I remember with clarity the moment my high school English teacher who, despite my own challenges with reading and writing, convinced me that I could communicate successfully with a pen and that I could read for meaning and for enjoyment.
Dare I say that many of you could similarly recall life’s prominent moments when a teacher made a lasting impression on your own life’s choices? Undoubtedly, we are who we are today thanks to the loving and careful guidance of so many teachers who, during their tenure as a teacher, moved and motivated, cajoled and coaxed, bellowed and beseeched many of us, despite our inadequacies, to learn and grow. As we honor the work of teachers in our lives, and as we move toward the annual ritual of congratulating another graduating class, I convey my own thanks to Portland’s teachers. I am eternally grateful and appreciative of the tireless and all-important work they do each and every day of the year!
As we close in on the end of the year, Portland teachers and school leaders at Brownstone Intermediate School, Portland Middle School, and Portland High School are beginning to design summer learning plans. We believe that learning is an endeavor that extended after dismissal and beyond the 181 schools days we have here in Portland. While our students have worked so hard and learned so much this year, research and experience teaches us that if students do not keep their minds active during June, July, and August, much of that learning is subject to phenomenon called the “summer slide.” With that in mind, we are now formulating summer learning plans for all students in grades 6-12 that includes a change in policy that will permit these students to bring their Chrome books home to complete the summer learning lessons and activities that are being designed. Please be aware that more information about summer learning plans will be shared in the coming weeks.
As we prepare to usher the Class of 2023 into the hallways of PHS, changes to Connecticut’s graduation requirements are taking shape here in Portland. Beginning with next year’s freshman, high school graduation requirements are changing. In fact, the Portland Board of Education is poised to adopt a new policy that articulates the revised graduation requirements. These requirements will guide curriculum, instruction, and assessment at the high school. Parents and students can rest assured that our counselors and teachers at the high school are well aware of the requirements, and will guide student course selections to ensure that all students are placed on a path to achieve the graduation requirements. More information about the new graduation requirements is outlined in the 2019-2020 PHS Program of Studies and additional information will be shared with parents and students as we begin the transition from middle school to high school.
NOTE: The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) recently published a series of briefs that explain the changes. Click this link to learn more - https://www.capss.org/public-policy-2018/ct-high-school-graduation-requirements.