SCHOOL BELLS SOON TO RING OUT
A CLARION CALL OF OPPORTUNITY

A new school year is about to begin and a fresh start is about unfold. President John F. Kennedy said "The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth." And to millions, an education and schooling leads to knowledge and truth and is an opportunity for life’s advancement and success. My friends, opportunity is "knocking."

This piece is for all interested parties...students, the home, and the school...a powerful triangulation when working together. It shares several suggestions for students and their parents or home providers as well as a suggestive note to the schools.

In short, to the students we say: BE prepared, BE positive, BE ambitious, and BE there. Going back to school, or going to school for the first time, may be for most individuals, a sense of anticipation and excitement OR uncertainty and anxiety OR a little of both. Your columnists know all about this; we have been there. We can empathize with the sting of defeat and the thrill of victory. We, too, have gone through this and it is something you just don't forget.

Most all of us -- students, the home, teachers and others -- recognize that school plays a most vital role in the life of every learner; and it will for the next 180 plus school days of this school year. Make no mistake about it, every student (age related of course) is responsible for his or her own actions and has a responsibility to help to make productive things happen. The student has a right to learn and an obligation to be responsible. Mastering the basic skills and developing positive work habits are essential. Acquiring a sense of achievement and advancement are cardinal to a solid education.

Most experts recognize that parental or home support plays a vital role toward the academic success and the emergence of a positive learning experience. In fact, the foundation of a child's being is so importantly, positively or negatively, home-centered. Most all agree, including students, that parents and significant care givers ARE or SHOULD BE the child's best cheerleading supporters and tone setters. The parental role is a special privilege and a vital home responsibility.

Good organization, sensible routines and a respect for a solid work ethic is essential foundational starters. A productive day at school begins six hours before a student's head hits the pillow the night before. One can help a child become a better student with desirable management skills. For example, assist your young child -- and older students have self-responsibility in this regard--to organize their time efficiently and effectively. For starters, limit television, interactive computer games, idle chatter on the telephone, and endless loud background music. Eliminate distractions. Getting enough physical exercise is essential for providing a person with a healthy lifestyle. There are four watch words that hold a vital key: sleep, eat, work, and play. It is essential that young minds and bodies have enough sleep every night to perform at their best. Also, young minds require a healthy breakfast to start off a good work day. Good food gives a body and brain the energy it needs to function properly. When these two power- houses... enough rest and good food... are combined with sufficient exercise and responsibility for completion of home or work chores, the learner is off to a great start for a healthy "learning workday." We believe work to learn and learn to work are essential prime life-long success skills.

Effective communication between school and home is essential in the education of a learner. The communication channel must go both ways. The school and the home ...EACH have a piece of the picture of a student's development, and EACH can be most effective when essential pertinent information is shared. Clear communication between school and home helps ensure that teachers and parents are responsive to the unique needs of each student. There are few things more hurtful to a student than an uncaring or overbearing attitude of a parent or a "vindictively unfair" attitude of a teacher.

Working together as full partners—the home, teachers, and administrators -- can create a caring and sensitive school climate which respects and responds to students' differences as well as their similarities. The centrality of this partnership is the student. The focus of the partnership is to maximize the potential within each learner so he or she may achieve all of which she or he is capable. This, we believe, is the essential underpinning of a quality educational experience.

John Locke, a great American forefather said it nobly-- "The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others." America's noble experiment: universal education for all citizens are a cornerstone of our representative democracy. And it is through excellence in education that we help to maintain the freedoms and liberties we know and treasure. Indeed, education opens doors to advancement, and it opens our minds to the truths of virtue, freedom and security. It has been said "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." How true that is where quality education plays such a vital role in a free and open society. Clearly, the essentiality of maintaining high educational performance expectations and action standards are the necessary cornerstone for a free and enduring society. Winston Churchill said it well, "never flinch, never weary, never despair." And you know, that is great advice for all of us to follow. That is as I see it from my perspective.