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School Opening: Get Ready, Get Ready!!
8/10/2016 2:06:21 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

Charleston County School District will roll out its red carpet on Monday as students return to school. As I encountered students in Office Depot and Wal-Mart, they didn’t seem as eager this year to return to school as they made their way through aisles of school supplies picking out paper, pens and notebooks. The tax-free weekend was a nightmare for shoppers that were shopping for items other than school supplies. It was a good weekend to purchase computers and large ticket items on the tax-free list.

Parents, you may not want to admit it but I am sure you are simply ecstatic. You finally get to watch your soap operas without interruption. All summer, it’s “take me here” and “take me there”. All summer you had to haul those little darlings back and forth to summer camps, summer jobs, summer schools and summer vacation Bible School. With the advent of school, teachers will assume the roles of mother, father, nurse, disciplinarian, security guard, bus monitors, and educator. Teachers wear many hats and we forget sometimes that their primary role is to teach—to impart knowledge. Teachers have an awesome responsibility to mold young lives that will one day enrich the lives of others. It’s a cycle that is worth repeating. It is so important that teachers give it their all and all the first time around.

As the first day of school approaches, parents are most often overwhelmed with questions. Should I send my child back to a failing school? Is my child eligible for one of the magnet programs? Will my child have a teacher, substitute teacher or even a principal? Will new schools be ready? Will my child need to be on medication to sit still and learn? Parents, while you are pondering the opening of school questions, be sure you ponder whether it is more important to hang out at the mall or your child’s school. Meet with your child’s teacher to see how you can impact your child’s education. And, find ways to work on school projects at home with your child.

School districts around the country are still facing teacher shortages. For several years, Charleston County School District has worked feverishly to find teachers to fill vacancies well into the school year. Years ago if you were to ask black students what they wanted to be when they graduated, their answer would be overwhelmingly a teacher or a doctor. Now, it’s more about technology. College graduates find it difficult to pay off student loans on a teacher salary.

I don’t remember there being “special education” students when I was in school. I am sure they were there but just not singled out as “special”. To our teachers, all students were “special” and all were treated as if they could learn. Teachers took students from where they were to where they needed to be. It was faraway places and things that students could only dream about that teachers made into reality. Through old hand-me-down books, we read about Shakespeare and the hemisphere; but teachers made it come alive through poetry, theatre and geography. Students had a little knowledge about plants and animals because they planted crops and took care of the livestock. Some of y’all know what I am talking about. You didn’t want your friends to know you worked on a farm. You thought they didn’t know; but they knew. You could not work around livestock and not smell like livestock. It was those caring teachers from the old school, that took what children thought were disgraceful chores and dignified those chores through Biology and Chemistry. It was no longer just picking corn and cotton but about learning the composition of commodities and how they are transformed into products that you use daily.

Students are faced with many challenges this year. At the top of the list is disparity in education. Will minority students be treated equitably? What plan will the new superintendent put in place to reduce the suspension/expulsion rates among minority students?

Will teachers be able to produce rocket scientists out of rock headed students? That’s what teaching is all about. It’s about finding ways to transform students whose potentials are limited into students who believe they can be anything they want to be. It’s a child’s human nature to want to learn and explore. Teaching is about finding even the smallest spark and transforming it into a flame. Parents, you need to get on fire as well. Your children need to see you at their school.

Will Superintendent Postlewait be able to turn education around in Charleston County? CCSD has failed miserably in the past to educate “all children” alike. We will be watching YOU!

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