Column: Focusing on the future with changes ahead

The prospect of change we face in life at times may seem daunting or may be embraced with great anticipation and excitement.

Dr. Mary E. Wolverton
Dr. Mary E. Wolverton

Our students finish a school year, summer begins and quickly their lives change again as they enter a new school year and possibly even a new school. John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

I was able to recently experience a change in life, becoming a new grandmother. As I watched my son and his wife prepare for the birth of their son, I considered the energy and great attention that many parents engage in to prepare for the arrival of their child. The preparation of the nursery, childbirth classes, educating themselves on caring for a newborn all support new parents as they welcome their child into this world. In the early morning hours as I peered into the nursery window at my new grandson, I was fascinated as I observed the nurses caring for the newborns and the new parents’ faces obviously filled with great joy and excitement. Clearly all had put a great deal of time, care, thoughtfulness and education into the preparation of welcoming the bundles of joy into this world.

In the days I visited the nursery at the hospital, I thought of the parallels of parents preparing for their new babies, and parents preparing their children for entering school for the first time or the transitions as they finish the school year. Another obvious parallel, is the great care, time and attention the staff in Anoka-Hennepin dedicate to the transitions for our students. As we finish the final days of this school year, teachers are dedicating time and energy to finalizing lessons and year-end assessments. Thoughtful consideration, time and energy are put towards ending a successful school year for our students. Teachers are also supporting transitions to middle school, which may be daunting for students, as well as excitement and anticipation.

With a watchful eye on the next school year, teachers and administrators additionally prepare for the welcome of new students next fall. Like a new parent preparing for the arrival of their child, staff put forth great care and attention to provide a welcoming, positive transition for our new students. For our incoming kindergarten students, schools provide opportunities for parents, guardians and students to attend kindergarten registration. Teachers and parents know that providing opportunities for students to see their new school and meet some of the staff assists with reducing some potential anxiety.

Our teachers also put thoughtful consideration into planning for next year, specifically in meeting the instructional needs of incoming students. Class lists, preparation of materials and meeting with current teachers of their students for next year, are all variables that support teachers and administrators in preparing for a successful transition for students for the new school year. I greatly appreciate the commitment of our school board for its support in the advancement and expansion of all-day-everyday kindergarten for students.

It is also reinforcing that with the recent educational funding bill, we will be able to offer all-day-everyday kindergarten for all students the fall of 2014.

The focus and energy parents put forth in preparing for a new baby has many parallels to educators preparing students for successful transitions. In my interactions with teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, I am consistently impressed with their dedication to supporting our students. With our focus on not only the past and the present, we most certainly will have an impact on the future for our students.

Dr. Mary E. Wolverton is the associate superintendent of elementary schools with the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

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