I attended a Seattle Livewire event hosted by the Seattle Times last week. The event involved the superintendents of a couple of the state’s larger school districts, two legislators, a CEO of a larger business, the Dean of Education from a state university, and the 2013 national teacher of the year. All were there to discuss a vision for K-12 education in the State of Washington. There were about 300 of us in the audience that listened to a dialogue between the panelists that was facilitated by two of the Seattle Times education columnists.
I found the discussion to be fascinating as it weaved from problems to potential solutions for the problems to problems with the solutions. The discussion was interspersed with speeches, promises, and finger pointing that rivaled political candidates. The audience weighed in with applause, boos, and comments, but all done in an environment of respect that honored the panelists. It was a demonstration of what the political arena really should be rather that the theater we have recently experienced over the last year. It renewed my faith in our democratic process.
When the ninety minutes were up, I walked away with an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Shoreline Christian School is not encumbered by many of the challenges our State funded counterpart’s experience. The current education system was never designed to do so much for such a diverse population with so many competing expectations. Shoreline Christian is a focused part of an ecosystem brought together for the Christian formation of the child. The ecosystem includes families, churches, relatives, friends, and community elements who are not only committed to the Christian formation of the child, but are also blessed by what the child gives back to them.
I also walked away thankful for the involvement of our parents in the school. Nowhere in the ninety minutes of discussion were parents even mentioned as having a role in the education of the child. At Shoreline Christian, parents are integral partners in helping to achieve our goals. I can send an email asking for a parent’s help, and I can expect a response. There is an expectation that parents will attend conferences and most step up to that responsibility. There were twelve to fifteen parents involved in preparing the Thanksgiving feast for our elementary students. Even more help supervise playground, field trips, and classroom activities. Parents serve on our School Board and committees overseeing the implementation of our vision and providing the resources to make it happen. Parents help with our extra curricular activities as coaches or game personnel. Most importantly, I am thankful for the partnership parents develop with teachers in helping with homework, teaching skills like time management, developing plans, and providing input as to how to grow their child.
Finally, I want to thank the parents at Shoreline Christian, both current and former, for trusting our teachers. Because of you, we can take advantage of our size to try things that other schools can only dream about doing. The way we provide student-parent- teacher conferences at the secondary level are a lot of work, but you show it is worth it. We can change schedules, and you are willing to try them with us. With the help of parents on the Education Committee, we can make changes to textbooks/resources, and have students high school students bring their own devices to augment our classes. You are even willing to try Google Classroom as young as kindergarten. When the day is done, our kids are the winners.
I was reminded again that Shoreline Christian School is a unique and special place because of all the people God has brought together for our students. I hope that the season gives you the chance to celebrate this with us during our Christmas concert and homecoming activities. I pray that your resolutions for the New Year include an even deeper involvement in making Shoreline Christian a better place for the generations to come.