September 25th, 2016

To sir, with love


By Chris Smeaton, superintendent of Holy Spirit Catholic Schools on August 6, 2013.

A couple of weeks ago, while flipping through the channels, I came across the movie To Sir, With Love starring Sidney Poitier. It is a favorite of mine, that I’ve watched all or parts too many times to remember. Like many films that tackle real school life, it reminded me of the power of an educator interacting with students. “Sir” took a personal interest in his students and was willing to make a difference in their lives. Funny, isn’t that what we are all called to do in education?

Fast forward to earlier this week when I was chatting about education with one of my golfing colleagues. Interestingly he stated, “There are few successful people who have not been influenced along the way by a teacher.” What a powerful statement! Everybody within the education system needs to remind themselves of the powerful influence that we have as educators. Each word or interaction we have with our students and even our parents has the ability to build up or tear down!

But his comments also made me wonder about those students who have not been successful in school. Who did not influence them and why not? Research is pretty clear that successful students have at least one strong relationship with an adult in the school. Should that not be our mantra in our schools today, to ensure that every child has a significant adult in their school life, each and every day? What would that look like to those students who seem to fall through the cracks or just fade away silently?

Education should never be minimalized and the impact that it has on our society can no longer be taken for granted. More importantly, the positive influence that one educator can provide to a child has the potential to not only change the life of one student but potentially change a generation. That message must ring clearly in our minds at the beginning of each school year and every day we face children.

In a few weeks, school bells will begin ringing again and students will be entering another year of their schooling. What will it take for us in education for this year for all students to be successful? We may never have enough money in education or all of the ideal conditions, but we can certainly maintain the positive attitude to truly make a difference in the lives of children. We can always be committed to being that significant adult in the life of a child. And we can, as I’ve written before, always be “creating our legacy.”

Begin the year seeking the students who need your extra support, extra attention, extra care and love. Make it happen and you will be part of another successful student who was influenced by an educator!

Superintendent of Holy Spirit Catholic Schools

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