Helping Students Reach Their Potential

by Corey Holland

UNcommon Sense: Christmas 2022

Merry Christmas! For those of us in the school business, Christmas break marks the half-way point of every school year. The close of the semester had the typical school activities of exams, term papers, and of course class parties. I am also proud to say, at Marlow, it closed with many students, classes, organizations, and sites focused on ways they could help others.

Many gathered up and gave away food to help feed those in need. Others held clothing and toy drives for area families. And still others raised funds to support several of our local community organizations. It makes me extremely proud to be a part of a school district where the students are so willing to help others.

In fact, I would say it is pretty uncommon these days for some young people to even consider the needs of others. Thankfully, Marlow students still do and it should remain an expectation in the future. Public Schools have a lot of expectations placed on them these days. Most of these are primarily academic standards. The state and federal governments continue to push higher educational expectations upon younger and younger-aged students.

We are getting very close to crossing the line of what is a realistic and age-appropriate academic expectation for students. At this pace, we may soon find ourselves asking if 1st graders should be performing Calculus computations while also preparing and defending a researched-based term paper. Yes, I am exaggerating, but what students are expected to know today in 4th grade is several grade levels ahead of what I was expected to know.

If you are a parent who has tried to help your student with homework lately, you can likely relate to what I am talking about. Absolutely, I am all for high expectations. In our modern, technical world, changes occur fast. Some would argue too fast. We must equip students for this reality. There are some things changing very little that are not talked about as much anymore but are extremely important. These timeless standards still can help young people succeed.

While these are rarely educational expectations monitored by the state or federal government, our district still believes they are vital. One of these, I have already referenced, is developing the capacity for compassion. Compassionate people see value in others rather than only focusing on “self.” Compassionate people are willing to help others around them rather than ignore or take advantage of others. Surely, we can all agree this is a quality we’d like to see in students. And we are.

As I mentioned, most of our students participated in one or more effort to help others during the Christmas season. This is a step in developing compassion for others. Thank you to our parents who are teaching this important quality at home.

Another timeless standard we emphasize at Marlow is personal accountability. This one is much more difficult sometimes to teach, especially these days. Too often the “your actions have consequences” lesson many of us grew up learning is today being understood as “your actions are not your fault, or at the very least, can always be blamed on others.” I know this is potentially a difficult statement to ponder for a Christmas article. My point is quite simple though.

Raising academic standards to the moon but developing students who do not understand the concept of personal accountability will only hinder the student from reaching his/her full potential. This timeless standard is that important.

We have a lot of great students at Marlow Public Schools and it is because we have a lot of great parents/guardians investing in students lives. By exposing students to high academic standards and some timeless, practical standards, together, we will see our students reach their full potential. That’s a gift I am sure we’d all love to see this Christmas.

- Corey Holland is Superintendent of Marlow Public School District