With our first couple of weeks of district-wide classes underway, I am pleased to report we had a strong start to what is sure to be a wonderful year at Flint Community Schools. Students and teachers are excited about the year ahead, and a new sense of school spirit is tangible as we prepare to welcome the new Flint Jaguars to their first game at Houston Stadium.
Now in my third year as superintendent, I continue to reflect on where we are going as a district, and how we will get there. As I hope you know by now, what I am after is nothing less than the transformation of Flint Community Schools. I won’t be satisfied until every Flint child graduates from high school, fully equipped with the skills they need to go on to higher education, professional training, a flourishing career and a well-lived life. I want a diploma from Flint Community Schools to be a badge of honor.
A high-quality education for every student – it’s an objective we can all agree on, but how do we get there? A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing from some of our students and asking them that question. Here is how I interpret what they want from their schools:
It’s impossible to achieve a culture of learning without also creating a culture of support; one in which students and teachers share trust and respect. Each student must be treated as an individual, not a category. Our schools must pay attention to student engagement and student attendance, student motivation alongside student discipline, and their outer behavior as well as their inner lives.
Our goal is to create a virtuous circle, in which a culture of support encourages learning, and where teachers offer a helping hand in the service of the highest academic standards. If we focus on the development of the whole child, then all students will achieve mastery – not just of math or reading, but mastery over themselves. We need instructional practices that promote student engagement, rigorous standards-based instruction and careful monitoring of student progress. Every student should have learning targets that are challenging and personal objectives they can understand and internalize. These learning targets should be tightly connected to instructional practice, so that pedagogy harmonizes with content. This is our theory of action.
Comprehensive learning cannot be attained without a safe school environment. As such, we’ll be talking about Bullying Prevention Month in October, in the days to come, and I encourage parents to talk to their children about bullying all year-round. Tell your children bullying is unacceptable and urge them to tell an adult if they ever witness bullying. Visit www.stopbullying.gov for more tips to start the conversation.
Also in October, we’ll recognize International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 4. We encourage families, friends and community leaders to join kids in celebrating the benefits of walking to school. The effort will be spearheaded by the Community Education Initiative, led by the Crim Fitness Foundation, which continues to be a great asset to the district. Community Education, now in its second year districtwide, continues to offer students and families incredible opportunities for growth. We’re also partnering with Community Education to feature a Community Athlete of the Month, beginning in October. Stay tuned to our social media channels for that feature.
Finally, I hope you will join us for our first football game at Houston Stadium this year, as the Flint Jaguars take on Bay City Western on September 22 at 7 p.m. Join us in using the hashtag #OneFlintOneTeam as we celebrate the new Flint Community Schools Athletics.