A new school year dawns

August 25, 2013

Tomorrow dawns a new day for children across Sampson County.

Students from ages 4 through 18 will return to classrooms in our two public school systems — private school students took their first steps into a new year a little while back now — for another academic year.

It is a chance at new beginnings for each one, no matter their academic record, no matter their past history, no matter their past attitude toward school or life itself.

Each child should begin this year with a clean slate; each parent should begin this year with a new determination to help their children succeed in every way they possibly can; and each educator should work diligently to allow every child to enter their classroom free from the prejudices of their past academic history and to focus on reaching them where they are and bringing them to the place they need to be in order to succeed.

For teachers to be able to achieve their goal, parents must understand the role educators play and then allow them to fulfill that role. That means realizing that teachers are there to teach and to discipline when necessary. They aren’t meant to be babysitters; they aren’t meant to be their nurses and psychologists. They are there to teach our children, arming them with the tools they need to succeed in this fiercely competitive world.

But the responsibility for a student’s academic success also rests squarely on the shoulders of young people. The youngest of them are the examples every other age group should follow. Pre-kindergartners, kindergartners, even first and second-graders, seem to soak in everything they are told. Wide-eyed and innocent, these boys and girls are eager to learn, eager to try new things. Their attitudes are great; their enthusiasm infectious.

Even those youngsters who have difficult family lives seem to find great joy in the learning process.

Somewhere along the line, however, the spark dulls, the attitudes change and the desire to learn is often replaced by the desire to just get by.

It doesn’t happen to every child, but unfortunately it is happening to more and more children from all socio-economic backgrounds and races.

We hope, no we pray, this year will be different for our youngest citizens.

Every child deserves a chance; every child deserves to be educated and placed on a path that can, if they will let it, take them to heights they may never even have imagined.

Not every child will become the CEO of a company, practice medicine or chose the law as their profession, but every child can succeed at something given the chance, and if they take the chance.

Parents need to understand the role they play in their child’s academic future as well. Be there for them. If they’re young, read to them, help them with their multiplication tables, call out their spelling words. If they are older, show interest in their grades, praise their achievements and listen to the reasons they have fallen short of the set goals.

In all cases, be involved in their schools, talk with their teachers, show up at parent nights and conferences, even when the child likely would prefer it if you wouldn’t.

Most importantly, care for them and remind them of the importance of education.

It’s a recipe for sure success — if we all do our part, this will be the very best school year each student has had.

Let’s commit ourselves to helping students achieve their academic success. Together we can make a difference in the lives of children, and making a difference in their lives makes a difference in our own.