As September rapidly flew by and the weather reminds us that school has really started and summer is past, I’m reminded of the mission the Marysville School District adopted three years ago by your school board: to Engage, Inspire and Prepare.
Learning is a wonderful adventure. I’m writing this on the eve of having the privilege of touring the Gettysburg battlefields and walking in the cemetery where Lincoln gave his famous address.
There is no struggle for my being ready to learn tomorrow. However, for a student to blossom through the 13 years of education we provide, it is a challenge for all involved. For our students to thrive, we must work together to support them. Our schools have our children about six to seven hours a day, 180 days of the year. We, the community, have them the rest of the time.
First, we need you to Engage in education in Marysville and Tulalip. Together, we must take responsibility for our children. You can help by supporting the institutions and organizations that support them: The YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Marysville Community Food Bank and our service clubs. Support them through athletic events at our schools, youth sports organizations, and plays and concerts. Get informed about the issues in our community and in our schools and help us address the tremendous needs of our older buildings.
Our teachers, counselors, administrators, coaches, and other support personnel such as school bus drivers and lunch staff are working with great skill and enthusiasm to see that every child is served, but they need our help. We all need to engage in this effort.
Second, we Inspire our students and staff. Teaching and learning is difficult and sometimes lonely work. Small things you do provide inspiration to a principal, a teacher or a student. I challenge you to find at least one school-aged child and one teacher in your neighborhood, church, family or friends, and seek to show that you care about them and their work. Do everything in your power to make them feel that they matter. One predictor of a child thriving as they grow up is having several adults beyond their parents with whom they can relate and they know care about them. They need our inspiration.
Third, our goal is to Prepare our students for a new world. Most of them will be doing jobs that don’t yet exist. Early in my high school years, I considered pursuing a career in forestry. I went to the Bellingham Public Library, checked out four or five books on forestry science, read them and realized I had to wait for college to learn more. Today students have access to unfathomable amounts of information – all they have to do is pick up their phone. Our challenge is to prepare our students to be careful thinkers, to work collaboratively, communicate clearly and act with compassion.
I’ve learned from my time being a school board director that education has changed. No longer is it one size fits all. Our teachers are gifted professionals who deeply care about children. They live for the joy of seeing young eyes light up when they master a new skill, or learn a new insight
into our world. They are preparing the next generation for the challenges to come.
I urge you to get involved. The diversity of experience and cultural background of Marysville and Tulalip give us an opportunity to prepare our students for the world in which they must function. Our students can thrive in the real world because of the caring and skills we as a community share with them. Visit the office of a nearby elementary school and volunteer to read to or with students. Parents, go to those PTA meetings. Support our teachers. Get to know a student. Come to a school board meeting. And Engage. Inspire. Prepare. Can we do less?
Tom Albright is a member of the Marysville School Board.