Those higher standards apply to the students, educators, facilities and the community. Some might ask why they should care about the schools if they don’t have any children enrolled in Ottawa’s K-12 classrooms. The answer is simple, Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa superintendent, said in a recent Herald report. “Our schools are your schools,” she said. “We want to do what is best for our kids, and we know the community will do that.”
That’s a powerful expectation based on the sense of community here, demonstrating we want to take care of all our kids and do all we can to help all our children succeed. Words and intentions might seem nuanced when discussing helping kids improve versus succeeding, however that subtle, yet higher, expectation is what Ottawa school board members wanted from the new superintendent, and that’s what she’s delivering.
Execution of higher expectations includes adapting the district’s standards to Common Core so students move beyond just learning rote memorization of curriculum to learning to apply those principles in a problem-solving global environment. Much like the adage, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” applying learned principles obliges students to figure out how to utilize those concepts in real life. Those lessons move beyond, for example, just learning what miles per gallon are in a math equation, when students have to go out in the real world to figure their own fuel efficiency, why that information matters and even how to change the outcome.
A retail cashier who never learned to count back change, and can’t figure out how much to give a customer without the aid of the cash register or calculator to provide the answer, is one example of not learning how to apply classroom principles to the real world. No one wants to see any of our children with that kind of a handicap when it easily could be remedied with more hands-on education.
Stroh, alongside the school board, principals, faculty and staff at the schools are raising the bar for students to achieve success at the highest level, so students graduate and excel in their pursuit of being college- and/or career-ready.
Establishing higher goals leads to students having to work harder to attempt to achieve those goals. Most students will achieve those goals leading to precisely the success that we as a community want for all our children.
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