Raise your hand for student success

Published 9:44 pm Monday, November 18, 2013

By David P. Mitnick

Our nation celebrates American Education Week through Nov. 22. This celebration, sponsored by the National Education Association, presents Americans an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who help ensure every child receives a quality education.

The theme this year is “Raise Your Hand for Student Success.” Have you raised your hand to support public education in Suffolk? If yes, thank you. If not, why not?

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As a professional educator for 36 years, the last seven with Suffolk Public Schools, I saw firsthand what the school system has to offer. Since my retirement, I have been active in the Suffolk Education Foundation, which supports Suffolk Public Schools by connecting the communities’ talents and resources to expand educational opportunities for students and staff.

So every day I raise my hand to support the public schools in the city of Suffolk. Do you?

Sure, I read the stories of schools not being fully accredited for one reason or another. Believe me, teachers do the best they can each and every day in their classrooms. I have seen the work that goes on behind classroom doors.

One of my friends is a math teacher at a local high school, the kind of teacher everyone wants their child to experience. He gives his time unselfishly to assist his students. If a student needs after-school tutoring, he is there. If a student has a study hall during the day, he makes himself available to help. He cares about kids and their learning.

I saw his sorrow last spring, when he felt he had failed, because 70 percent of his students did not pass their SOL tests. He raises his hand every day for student success. Do you?

There is the elementary school physical education teacher, who works closely with the core subject teacher. She combines academic skills into her P.E. lessons to show students practical applications of what they learn in their classrooms.

The Suffolk Education Foundation has funded instructional grants to this teacher so she can expand her work. She raises her hand every day for student success. Do you?

Then there is the Suffolk middle school science teacher, who works tirelessly to make her classroom come alive. She explores grants to bring additional hands-on activities to her classroom to assist students to be successful.

She raises her hand every day for student success. Do you?

These are only a few of the thousands of stories of teachers who go the extra mile to help students be successful in their classrooms. Suffolk Public Schools is fortunate to have gifted educators who believe in what they do.

Despite the lack of pay raises and rising costs for insurance and other benefits, they raise their hands every day for student success. Do you?

During American Education Week, take a moment to think what you can do to raise your hand for student success.

Perhaps it is volunteering in a school to tutor a child who needs the extra attention to be successful. Perhaps it is becoming a part of a school’s PTA to support education in that school, whether you are a parent or not. Perhaps it is writing a quick note or email to say thank you to a teacher. Perhaps it is writing a letter or speaking at a budget hearing to promote full funding for the Suffolk Public Schools budget. Perhaps it is voting for supporters of public education during City Council elections.

Thank you to the teachers, administrators and support staff of Suffolk Public Schools. American Education Week is a celebration of all those in the school system who “Raise your hand every day for student success.”

David P. Mitnick is a retired school counselor and the current president of the Suffolk Education Foundation. Email him at dmitnick@charter.net.