Thank you for your comment. This picture (of my Wife Anna and our 8 month old Son Joseph) was taken a few weeks ago in the dining room of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre.
I wish you well with your exploration of John. Over the last couple of years I have benefited from the valuable support of the Woodbrooke Bible Studies Tutor, Tim Peat Ashworth. He had a very useful book on the Apostle Paul (Paul's Necessary Sin) published in 2006. So if you ever require any guidance on studying Paul, let me know.
I received your snail mail article and read it with interest. Notice that in your section of the article about SMHS you highlighted the same program that I spoke of in my own earlier post to you, as being outstanding--the AVID program. As I mentioned in my earlier post, the AVID counselor Cindy Moreno (couldn't recall her name; I have short term memory loss of late)
did an outstanding job of helping at-risk and at-need students. The program had very high expectations. Usually, AVID students soared to the top of our college prep classes. Very impressive program!!
Other great things about SMHS are also mentioned in your article such as the college center, more students taking AP, the community health center, etc.
These are all so true--the half full glass of which I spoke.
There was the terrible half empty glass of which I also spoke, but I am glad that you and your husband focused on the positive:-)
Notice that the nice principal Esther Prieto-Chavez speaks of education as being "a team effort" which is what I also emphasized. I probably, at least, partially picked up the idea from her.
The sad thing is that "the team effort" often broke down SMHS, even became dysfunctional, but I am glad that many students were helped. Some of those students I am recalling by face right now in my mind.
Yes, I was at SMHS in 2004. In 2006, I retired 5 years early. The last few years have been a very sad time for me. I miss teaching students so much.
I think NCLB is a mixed bag--a lot of gravel with some gold dust;-). It has high ideals but forgets what our real society is like where many kids just have a hard time surviving, let alone learning.
In my opinion (for what its worth; remember, I sought to reach each student where ever she was at, but seldom could help her reach all the potential she had)...
As I was saying, before the qualifier, education is extremely complex--a combination of student effort, parental support, teacher creativity and hard work, and principal coordination, support, and follow-through. When that happens (and I saw some marvelous examples) wondrous things happen.
But invariably it seems the government, the educational bureaucracy, etc.
go instead for simplistic solutions. Educational panaceas recycle over a period of years. I was involved in education long enough to see some come round again.
What is needed aren't NCLB-type solutions. What is needed is the complex I described above (student, parent, teacher, principal). Of course, seldom do we get to work in the real world that way. Much of the time I had to deal with my own inadequacies, many students with severe at-risk behavior, too many parents with dysfunction, even abuse, a few administrators who failed to be supportive...
What was wonderful however was when I had a principal who backed up and supported our in-class educational methods and discipline policy. Then at-risk students were helped. It was inspirational to see students have 'aha' experiences in literature, learn express themselves creatively in media and writing. I remember with fond memories some responses I got from parents who so appreciated how we helped their son or daughter to achieve so much more.
I suppose I shouldn't mention names, but several principals I had brought out the best in me--helped me so I could teach in such a way that students were energized. And I am forever thankful for their support as I am sure the students and parents are, even more than me.
And that's the half full glass:-)
Maybe you could send me the url link to the Inspiration Award article.
Funny that while we are in the midst of discussing SMHSD--would you believe the first thing a sales person who waited on me Sunday night at Best Buy said was,
"Hi Mr. Wilcox, remember me?" and we proceeded to have a mini-conversation.
It is such joy to meet former students.
I am glad that SMHS won the award. There have been some fine creative programs in the SMJUHSD and many very dedicated teachers. A very good example is the AVID program and the high energy teacher who administered that program. Something like 80% of her at-risk students went onto higher education!
We also had a very good Freshmen Pilot program that was holistic. And we as a school did some fine work on restructuring, but much of this was cut or abandoned for "no child left with a mind." ( I realize that President Bush meant well, as did many others in the ed-establishment but the method of focusing too much on testing and the dropping of art classes, drama, etc, and the lock-step approach,etc., in my opinion (and many other teachers including The English Journal) actually harmed many students.
I am very strong for testing but testing needs to be fit into a solid restructuring program and creative methods. When creativity is cut in the humanities, something is wrong.
SMHS has other severe problems. In the 90's I used to often tell my students (when they asked why I was a teacher) that I so loved teaching that I would still show up at school each day even if I won the lottery.
Educational bureaucracy got so bad during the last several years of my regular teaching. Focus shifted from teaching students to think, to read, to write, (like in the restructuring days) to an unnatural focus on massaging state test scores, kill and drill, lack of discipline support...Suddenly students were cut to fit the Procrustian bed; the sad fact was some students could pass state tests but had no incentive to learn or to appy their reading skills, that over 80% percent of students in our classes were performing below a 4th grade level in 11th grade...
There's something wrong when most English teachers wish they could retire.
I realize I have my own biases and that I couldn't reach some students, however, after many years of teaching and learning from award-winning teachers, I think I did know some of what is educationally successful for students versus what is the latest questionable method.
I became so discouraged (except for the students who really tried), I would have quit teaching even if the school had offered me a lottery win.
And then there were other factors as unwell...
But that is the very bad news of the past. It's Thanksgiving week. I am just thankful that some of our efforts helped some students and that despite all the negatives, students were helped enough that SMHS got an award for it.
And I have hope that the educational establishment will get back, eventually, to a more balanced approach as recommended by The English Journal, etc.
Hope you survived a little venting on my part:-)
I care very much for education and sorely miss teaching students.
As you can see, I am of the Thoreau-oriented school of educational theory
and want to 'throw' out the other;-) I suppose some of this perspective comes from my Friends views--speaking to each person holistically not in a rigid way.
Santa Maria has an award-winning high school? I haven't heard that. My own earnest efforts as a teacher in Santa Maria to help the schools become centers of real learning only left me disillusioned and filled with heartache, though I do know there are many students who excel and there are plenty of teachers who care.
I am so blessed when former students--often once a week--come up and surprise me and say how much they learned. I often don't recognize them as their appearance has changed so much.