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Sunday, 17 August 2014 16:19

Back To School Message

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Jeff Stephens, New Superintendent of Weber School DistrictAs we prepare for a new school year, I think it is important to momentarily step back from the stressful demands that come with opening school and consider what our overall educational aims entail. If I may, I'd like to share some of those broad goals from my perspective. First, I want each teacher, administrator and support professional to keep in mind that we are here to help in the balanced development of the whole child. In the current climate, it's so easy to fall into the trap of a narrowly defined school mission that simply prepares students to succeed on core tests. However, our vision must encompass a commitment to excellence that exceeds proficiency in basic knowledge and skills and strives toward the realization of each child's full potential.

I value classrooms that are intellectually enlarging and lead to sound thinking, effective communication and skill in quantitative reasoning. Such classrooms engage students in critical thinking and creative imagination. These students then become capable of understanding and solving a wide variety of problems. They develop a depth of knowledge, which allows them to recognize what is genuinely meaningful as opposed to knowledge which is merely peripheral. Depth certainly requires sustained inquiry and persistent effort. Ultimately, the chief result of depth is competence.

Along their learning journey, students should enjoy a breadth of study in history, the arts, science and relevant global issues. We want our students to gain an understanding of human civilization, appreciation for the unique contributions of America to our modern world, and a general historical perspective. All students should have a solid understanding of the physical, biological and social sciences, as well as a recognition of the power (and limits) of the scientific method. Our global economy is currently in tremendous need of leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). We also want each student to develop a keen appreciation for the arts. The arts promote innovation and collaboration, and positively impact student learning and cultural understanding. Perhaps most importantly, creative endeavor in the arts can inspire and transform minds, hearts and lives!

Obviously, the vision I have briefly described represents a broader, richer, and more comprehensive learning experience than one found in a "test-prep" school. Sharing this vision is not meant to overwhelm those with already full plates. Rather, it is intended to bring perspective to the fundamental goal of public education—assisting students to be successful in life. I honor each of you for your tremendous dedication to children and wish you the best as you impact those privileged to fall under your influence this year!

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