Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You Can't Learn That in a Classroom

I really enjoy summertime around the school district, but probably not for the reasons that you are thinking. Most people think it's because of the relative quiet solitude and long periods of uninterrupted work time. Now don't get me wrong that is nice, and it allows me to stay out in front of my various tasks; but it can get a little lonely around here on a late afternoon when everyone is gone. Schools are for kids, and when you don't have them around every day you start to miss them! 

On many days the office here is relatively quiet. We may have a few visitors now and then--perhaps a youngster looking for student driving permit, a new family moving into town looking for registration material, or a teacher that is stopping to see if their summer order has arrived. Other than that it can be pretty quiet, at least in here. Because of this, I am lucky to have the opportunity to get out in the district and see what is going on. As I was walking around the district earlier in the week, I realized that this was probably the busiest summer we have had in my tenure for facilities and improvement projects. 

Outside this office, the district really is bustling--and there is still quite a bit of learning occurring. We have electricians that have spent time re-wiring the oldest computer lab in the district. Those same electricians spent a significant amount of time replacing the light fixtures in the high school gymnasium.

Speaking of the high school gymnasium, we had a crew that came in a few weeks ago and repainted the space (it looks fabulous by the way). Following that, we had new baskets installed. The floor is scheduled to be sanded and painted in the next two weeks in advance of the new bleachers, which are scheduled for installation right before school starts.

Of course you have probably seen the work that is going on in the North parking lot, the excavation that is taking place at the hotel property, or even the prep work that is happening to get ready for the installation of the new stadium scoreboard. What learning, right?

Most of this work is being done by skilled trades, and they learned (and in some cases are learning) their trades on the job! It is pretty neat to watch a bulldozer or backhoe work---but to operate one? That is something that you have to learn from an experienced expert. Some of these workers for various contractors are novices or in apprenticeship programs learning how to finish concrete. By the way, watching concrete being poured and finished is pretty interesting and looks relatively easy--- but trust me it's not. I tried it and it is very difficult. It takes a lot of talent, strength, and believe it or not an artistic flair. Go out to the north parking lot and see if you can tell which parts of the curb were poured with a machine and which were done by hand. I'll bet you would be impressed!

Here is my point. Our goal for graduates of the Hudson Community School District is to ensure that they are college or career ready.  A key benchmark for measuring that goal can be found in our Learner Performance Goals. Meeting those goals mean simply that graduates should be prepared to make a decision. Either they go to college or they enter the workforce. Both are vitally important to our society. Not everyone needs to go to college, and not everyone needs to enter the workforce. Our job is to provide each student that graduates from high school with the ability to make a decision for themselves. What is their passion? What do they want to do? 

Then it gets pretty cool. You start to see graduates returning to the community not as students, but as Contributing Citizens. Maybe they are a teacher in the school system. Or maybe they are a heavy equipment operator moving dirt on a major construction project. We need both!

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