Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Education Cabinet secretary visits Elizabethtown High School

ELIZABETHTOWN — ...Education Cabinet Secretary Laura Owens spoke ...before a crowd of teachers, principals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, secretaries and others.She talked about the importance of flexibility and credibility — two traits she said school employees must have to make the district successful.Teachers must be flexible to address students’ diverse learning styles, Owens said.“We have to make sure we tear down the cookie-cutter approach,” she said.

Still, every school employee also must be flexible to meet students’ needs inside and outside the classroom. Students have challenges, Owens said, referring to personal issues of her own former students. One was living in a car, three had cancer and Owens, once an English teacher, had to remember “Beowulf,” for example, was a justifiably low priority.

With the first bell of the year less than 24 hours away, Owens also encouraged building credibility with students. That can be done by responding to situations appropriately. Everyone has to let go of the small stuff, she said.“I’ve watched teachers break down into tears over broken copiers,” Owens said, smiling and sparking a round of laughter in the packed commons area.It doesn’t take long for students to tune out those who consistently over-react, Owens said.
Amy Key, a third grade teacher at Morningside Elementary, agreed.“I think it’s huge to let the little things go,” she said.She said credibility with her students is critical to her job.“You won’t be successful if they don’t trust you and respect you and know that you love them,” Key said of students.

Like many others, Key spent part of Monday making sure her classroom was ready so she could concentrate on getting to know her students and starting instruction. She said it takes about a month to form relationships with students.Superintendent John Millay also spoke at the employee assembly. He touted the district’s performance, but also called for improvement.“We have great kids, a great staff and a great community. There’s no reason we can’t continue to improve,” he said.Elizabethtown students will attend a half-day of classes today.

This from the News Enterprise.

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