As an educator, my goal is to provide students with the skills they need to follow their dreams. Students participate in education with the expectation that it will help them to build a future. Parents encourage the education of their children with the hope that they will have an opportunity to lead a rewarding life.
As a citizen, I trust that my investment in education will improve the lives of children so that they will be inspired to improve our community. Education is the key to unlocking potential. This is easy to say, but hard to implement. It is essential that schools offer well rounded activities so that children are engaged in learning what they are good at and what they enjoy doing. It is essential that schools work with students to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills that are needed to plan for the future of our community and nation. It is essential that schools teach students to not just read and write, but to reason and interact in a positive way with others. These social skills are critical to tolerance and understanding of other cultures in a nation with diverse populations.
When I was a student, my school had an award for good citizenship. Students were nominated for being a good contributor to the school environment. The criteria included: being responsible, demonstrating integrity, trustworthiness, having the courage to do what is right, maintaining a positive attitude, being present in school, and faithfully participating in school and/or community activities. When I finally received the award, I was honored by the vote of confidence, but more importantly, I valued the recognition of my efforts to do the right thing.
Good citizenship does not start at the school door. Adults have an important role in molding the minds, attitudes, and dreams of youth. This is true of family, friends, and even neighbors. It is just as important to have good citizenship in our neighborhoods as in our schools. How do we teach children to be good neighbors? I have a neighbor who uses his snow blower to clear the sidewalk for our entire neighborhood after every snow storm. He remembers growing up and watching his neighbor, a Massachusetts state police officer, doing the same and he wanted to be just like him. State police officers have a demanding job serving the public in often dangerous situations. Yet, this officer extended his attitude of caring and service to his neighbors, even after a long day at work. This officer lived a life of good citizenship, which inspired a child, who has grown up and is now paying it forward in our neighborhood.
Inspiring a child to desire the opportunity to help others – that is the key to developing good citizenship. How is it done? Education and community involvement are the building blocks.