Superintendent's February Message
John Collins, Ed.D.
February is Black History month, and we recently celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. King once said, “The time is always right to do what is right." I believe, the time is now.
As superintendent, I believe Poway Unified School District is capable of providing a world-class education where all students are learning, thriving, and achieving college and career readiness, regardless of…. (There’s a long list that often follows the word “regardless of” as required legally for protected classes of individuals.) These include race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, special needs, etcetera. While these legally protected classes are certainly important, I believe it’s time for the entire PUSD community to expand that list beyond these qualifiers and commit to providing a personalized education for every student, “REGARDLESS.” This will require that we ensure an inclusive environment for everyone.
Unfortunately, every day on our campuses, we have students who feel left out or excluded. Students who don’t feel connected, who feel uncomfortable. These students will sometimes share with a trusted adult on campus that they feel invisible. However, more often than not, many students feel it is safer to simply remain invisible. No one should have to feel that way. As educators, we work very hard to help ALL students learn.
At our recent employee recognition dinner Paul Messerle, a longtime Rancho Bernardo High School teacher and a current San Diego County Teacher of the Year, described his own high school experience of being bullied and feeling unsafe at school: “You inherently think something is wrong with you when you bear the brunt of such attacks… I crafted a suit of heavy emotional armor so I could go to school every day. But I was afraid, and you cannot learn when you are afraid.” Paul credits teachers for shaping who he is today: “They taught me to become, to know myself, to be the person that they saw within me, even when I didn’t have the courage to see it within myself.”
That kind of courage, to realize one’s full potential, is happening all over PUSD. Indeed, the Board of Education recently heard from a proud alumnae, Amon-Ra. As a young man, he hadn’t given college much thought. But he spoke about the education and support he received from Westview High School, as well as the focus and encouragement he received from the College Bound San Diego program. Ultimately Amon graduated from Morehouse College, the only all-male historically black college in the United States.
My challenge to the entire PUSD community for 2016 is to continue to increase and improve personalized education that will not only close the achievement gap, but guarantee a culture of inclusion. That road to personalized learning won’t be an easy one. But the first steps are to recognize, then include and accept, and finally celebrate the individual.
I ask each of you: students, staff, community members, to reach out to someone who needs to feel visible again.
Active Parenting of Teens is a highly successful, research based program by Michael Popkin, Ph.D, which provides parents with the skills they need to use effective discipline, teach responsibility and communicate with their teens. Each session also shows parents how to handle sensitive issues such as drugs, sexuality and peer pressure. This series celebrates nearly 20 years of helping PUSD parents navigate the rough waters of the teen years!
*This series fills quickly! Reserve your space online TODAY at www.theparentworkshops.com. Series is $39/individual or $69/couple. Tuition is due on the first evening. Cash or check made out to PUSD only. Active Parenting of Teens book will be available for purchase on the first evening also. Sorry, no refunds.
Only as parents do we expect that love will be enough. Often it just isn’t. Parents also need skills! Sign up for our fun, highly acclaimed parent workshops. No boring lectures, not just theory, but fun learning. Get results you can see immediately! Isn’t your child worth it?
*Reserve your space online today at www.theparentworkshops.com. Each series is $29/individual or $49/couple. Cash or checks made out to PUSD only please. Parenting books will be available for an additional fee. Sorry, no refunds.
What are logical and natural consequences? How can you minimize sibling rivalry?