Collect your keys, learn from everyone you can

Years ago, my mom encouraged me to understand that each learning experience “puts a key on the ring.” She insisted that learning was a daily activity and every person I encountered had the ability to teach.

Ed Saxton
Ed Saxton

“Collect the keys and use them when the situation returns,” Mom advised.

The month of August brings several experiences and transitions for our families. Most schools have had a fall roundup to jump-start fall activities. On Aug. 12, students who have been preparing for several months prior will begin their official seasons. For high school students, much of the summer has been dedicated to improving and focusing on what lies ahead. Welcome back, students. Let us begin the 2013-14 with great expectations.

As educators, we encourage reading during the summer. Soon, we will see how well the students did with their reading the past few months. Along with students, teachers return in August and begin to shape the experience they will provide for our learners. Generally, there is a flurry of activity prior to the State Fair. Even if attending the fair is not something you plan to do, it still serves as a marker or a sign that cries out, “Summer is over!

Please return to school!” It is an exciting time of year.

By the time September arrives, the back-to-school displays will be coming down and stores will be moving to the next “marketing moment for sales.” However, in our school system, September is more about what can be taught now so students can succeed long term. Our job is to make each day an opportunity to improve as a student, as a thinker, and as a problem solver. With that said, the next issue is how to deliver learning experiences that are meaningful.

The learners of today bring a completely different skill set to the classroom. They are ready to be anytime-anywhere learners. The more critical element is: will the current system be innovative enough to meet their needs? Our students will be exposed to ever-improving models of instruction focused on the quality and appropriate use of technology.

Most students are exposed to the Internet with the ability to research almost anything. As our teachers work to harness the enthusiasm and help shape problem-solving abilities, our students will be well-prepared to experience learning anytime, anywhere. Our ability to build a digital bridge from school to home becomes a high priority. Using devices at school will allow students to become better researchers. Problems will be identified, addressed and solved.

Everyone in every setting has the ability to learn. The school experience begins with the ride to school and continues in the hallways, classrooms and after-school activities. A true learning setting is one that is constantly in front of the learner. Our employees in District 15 ascribe to the concept of learning in every setting. We will welcome our students soon and will together chart a course for a successful 2013-14 school year.

Where my mother encouraged me to collect keys, my father was a bit bolder. He taught me this: “You can learn something from everyone; from some, you learn what to do and others, what not to do.” I believe they were saying the same thing, just in very different ways. Collect your keys, learn from everyone you can, and have a great school year.

Ed Saxton is the superintendent of the St. Francis School District.

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