Looking back an important part of planning ahead

Americans have traditionally focused on seasonal holidays and celebrating the Fourth of July is no exception. Many of us hosted or attended barbecues and watched or participated in parades. Some of us traveled.

Ed Saxton
Ed Saxton

I believe it would be safe to say most of our friends, neighbors and relatives were up to something as they commemorated the anniversary of our nation’s independence. To increase the odds of having fun, cities throughout the country celebrated with sponsored activities and breathtaking fireworks displays.

Fireworks on the Fourth are most often included with a great deal of expectation from young and seasoned citizens alike. We organize, anticipate, participate and when we are all finished with our activities, we evaluate… this went well, this needs work, this we must do every year, this we must never do again. We review the function with the goal of improving the experience for next year.

This procedure is not limited to holidays or special occasions. Revisiting our endeavors with the overarching desire to improve is prudent. In some areas, it is a must. With that said, let’s review the summer that has rapidly approached the midpoint. We are invited to open houses, weddings, showers (perhaps a similar category), house-warming events, retirements and more. Each event has a purpose and a goal.

As superintendent of schools, I encourage families to look at student achievement in much the same manner. Principals, teachers, educational assistants and all of our employees enjoy celebrating student success during each school year. As educators, we also organize, anticipate, participate and when we are all finished with our planned activities, we too, evaluate. How well did our students perform, how much did they learn, how will we improve our instruction next year – and did we move the needle by improving the technology aptitude of our students and staff? We review the school year with the goal of improving the experience for our students and their families in the year to come.

When striving to improve our instructional methods, our teachers engage in reflective practice. This exciting method, aimed at reviewing and adjusting, improves teaching and learning. It has been utilized in our district for over a decade. Several of our teachers and principals will invest time in July and August to better serve our students in 2012-2013. Increased achievement is the goal.

What is up next for our students in July and August? Great question. The schedule may be more relaxed when it comes to school, but this is a certainty: summer school, summer camps, summer family vacations and just plain summer will present several opportunities to set goals and to evaluate. We have always been proud of the dedication our students and families have made to summer reading.

As a school district, we will send post cards to keep the idea of summer reading fresh, and our hope is that families and friends will continue to be supportive and will encourage our students to read. We will all be pleased with the positive results in the fall.

As the celebrations continue, be sure to take advantage of days too hot to do much or too wet to do much–and read.

Maybe an interesting topic in mid July could be reading about the history and purpose of fireworks. Enjoy the second half of your summer and please remember that when you weave reading into your family life, those great summer activities will become even more interesting and memorable.

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