Recommit to EVERY student!

First of all, I would like to welcome educators, students and families to the 2017-18 school year! We, in the school business, are fortunate to have two Happy New Year celebrations within a 12-month period. Educators get a chance at the beginning of every school year to give students a brand new start and the benefit of the doubt.

Northwest AEA employees had the opportunity to hear Manny Scott, a character from the movie Freedom Writers, speak on Opening Day. Manny grew up in California amongst gangs, poverty, drugs and despair. With the help of teachers, including Erin Gruwell (from the movie Freedom Writers), he turned his life around and is now speaking nationally about the impact educators make in a child’s life. View a video of Manny’s story. It is extremely powerful: Manny encourages teachers to never give up on students and says that each and every teacher can make a difference in a student’s life. He made the comment that, as a teacher, “Even on your worst day, you may be someone’s best hope.” Students perform best when they know you care for them and believe in them. So, please, embrace and care for every student this year.

In fact, John Hattie’s work on effect size points out how influences affect student achievement. He ranks 138 influences that relate to learning outcomes, from very positive to very negative. A teacher’s belief that a student can learn has always ranked high on Hattie’s meta-analysis related to learning and achievement. So, as an educator, you can make a difference in every student’s life—no matter their race, socioeconomic status, religion or disability. You, as an educator, are the key influence!

The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, highlight how humans can allow their differences to tear communities apart. A peer of mine in Michigan has written some reflections on this event and what led up to it. He gives a historical summary of the injustices that many in our country have endured. Scott Menzel challenges us to respect all people and all cultures and says, “Either we embrace and live out our values reflecting respect for all human beings, or we embrace a narrative where the powerful, privileged, and affluent are able to control the narrative and marginalize and oppress those who are perceived as different, inferior, or other.” 

As educators, we need to lead through our values. Manny Scott would say that all children can learn no matter their color, origin or socioeconomic status. We are at a critical time to believe in our diverse student population, and I agree with Manny and join him in begging you to serve EVERY student in your classroom. I know I believe that every student can learn, no matter their status. Equip your students with the tools they need to meet their dreams.

How will you help EVERY student meet their potential? What opportunities will YOU give them? Where do you stand?

As always, be sure to check out our blogs, which we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work:

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided on the Northwest AEA website).

Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator