Our district has a fall professional development time set aside for all returning teachers, staff, administrators, etc. before students come back. A speaker is always invited to help kick off the 2 day event. Our speaker this year was Dr. Anthony Muhammad from Michigan. He was a principal at a middle school in Michigan that in 5 years time went from 31% passing math and science assessments to close to 90% passing. A tremendous turn around for a school in what is considered high risk, low income area. The schools are 97% African American and a large percentage come from single parent (Mostly moms) household. His story was tremendous but he wasn't here to brag but to share how to reach students right where they are! The concept is called Professional Learning Communities and involves not only schools, but area businesses, universities, and of course, parents. His talk was geared towards teachers and those that deal directly with students. I have to admit to having a hard time staying as I really had other work I needed to do and my job does not deal directly with the students. However, I did remain for his entire presentation. He was really a great speaker and kept everyone's attention.
In an auditorium full of teachers - it can be a challenge to motivate them and encourage them as preparations gear up for the new year. Dr. Muhammad did a great job and his first words to the teachers were "You are all special people. Every great person to be named was impacted by a teacher!" We take our education for granted so often. It is a privilege but also a responsibility of both students and parents. As your school gets ready for the new year, be an encourager to the teachers, staff, administrators, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and any others that touch students' lives in your area. You never know what your word or act of encouragement might mean to them!