How do we, as a public school system, ensure that we are that constant?
The common denominator through the years has been the commitment of staff to meet the needs of students.
As a school system and individual schools, I want us to be focused on the instruction of each and every child who attends a Loudoun County public school. At the end of the day, that is really all that matters; the quality of the instruction, the quality of the educational experience that our students are having each day. We want to provide for them the best experience possible. We want to provide for them an experience that really does prepare them for the world in which they’re going to live. We want to provide for them an experience that enriches them beyond the “three R’s.” We want to give them opportunities to become creative, to become critical thinkers, to become great communicators and to learn to collaborate in serious ways with the other students, teachers and adults who are part of their educational life.
We will never lose sight of our primary mission, the education of Loudoun’s young people. Every person who works in Loudoun County Public Schools is part of an educational team with a high calling. Our students and our community depend on us to prepare the next generation of world citizens. As our superintendent, I know our staff has the skills and the will to make this the best year in the history of Loudoun County Public Schools.
Adaptability is something I’ve learned during my career in education and something I want everybody associated with our schools to master.
The definition of a basic education has changed remarkably over the last 45 years. We’ve gone from the belief that students could be tracked and prepared in a narrow way – either to enter the world of work or post-secondary education – to today’s world where all students really have to be prepared for both. They have to be ready to go on to higher education. Advanced training will be part of every job description in the 21st century.
In order to be successful, whether you’re a professional in a trade or a professional in an academic area, or a professional in a service industry, you’re going to have to be able to deal with new technology, with new methodology and, most importantly, you’re going to have to be willing to change with the times. The notion that you could get a set of skills and practice those forever and be successful forever has passed us. That’s true whether you’re talking about plumbers, electricians, auto technicians or lawyers, medical doctors, teachers or principals.
There’s not an area of work that isn’t affected by the rapid-fire change of the world in which we live. We’ve talked for several years about the need of our students to really be prepared to be global citizens. The sort of artificial boundaries that we’ve known in past years – whether they were county lines, state lines or even national lines – are disappearing. Whether our students move to another country physically in the future to do a job, there’s little doubt that they will be involved with people in other countries doing their job. The ability to have an appreciation of how people around the world are alike and different will be a key to success.
I know, as they have for the past several years, budgetary concerns will be a key issue in the coming school year.
There are no silver bullets. That doesn’t keep us from hoping we’ll find the perfect solution to any issue that confronts us. In the long run, what I have found is No. 1, if you want to have a premier educational system you have to be willing to invest in that system. If you look at the top 10 universities in America, if you look at the top 10 private schools in America, if you look at the top 10 public schools in America, what you find as a common denominator is a willingness to invest in that educational enterprise. Once the community has made that financial investment we, as educators, have to be willing to think hard, work hard and make the best use of the funds that are available.
Whatever the budget brings, Loudouners can be assured that the funds allotted to Loudoun County Public Schools will be spent in a transparent manner. We don’t have a vested interest in being secretive about what we do. Our vested interest is in having our public trust what we do. The only way that is going to happen is if we are honest about what we’re doing. There will be times in student and adult personnel matters where, for very good reasons, we’re not able to provide all the details some people would like to have. That’s because there is some level of privacy that has to be protected – for children in particular.
The key to excellence is never losing sight of why we are here. My hope for all of us is that this year will be challenging, but that we meet the challenges on behalf of our students.
By supporting one another, we will continue to create a climate for success.
Edgar B. Hatrick, Ed.D.
Last Modified on August 22, 2012