Dec. 2012 Column

The Christmas Break is a well needed pause in a school’s calendar year.  Students, and staff alike need to get away, let their minds and energy focus on less serious activity.  It is hard work for staff to stay focused on educating children on a daily basis.  I’ve heard comments that teachers only work 180 days.  I would encourage the naysayers to try spending time with 150 adolescents 7 hours a day.  Or better yet try keeping 17 kindergarten students focused and engaged for any length of time.  Some might correlate the latter to herding cats, yet these teachers are diligent and love their students. BUT, as much as we love our jobs, there does come a time when we need a separation from each other to “reboot” and clear our minds, so we can return after the New Year with a vengeance.

This school year has been like so many others.  Education is in a constant state of change.  The dynamics of what children are expected to learn changes annually.  Therefore, our jobs become modified to meet the needs of the students.  We prepare our graduates to be successful citizens when they graduate.  This is a difficult task considering the average person will change jobs eleven times in their lifetime and one in seven persons will apply for a job that is not even created yet.

The onset of Common Core State Standards consumes the majority of our professional development.  CCSS will be fully implemented in New Mexico in the 2014-15 school year. It is much more rigorous and demanding than our current set of standards.  It pinpoints fewer standards, but requires a deeper understanding for those standards taught.  The best way to compare Common Core State Standards with the existing State Standards and Benchmarks is the State standards is like looking at a lake that is a mile long but an inch deep.  There is a lot to learn but educators are not required to delve into the depth of learning.  CCSS can be visualized as one quarter mile long and a mile deep.  We will address fewer standards, but students will be expected to have a more profound understanding of the principles.  Another change at HMS has been brought about because our recent ratings by the Public Education Department. HMS is focusing on Standards driven curriculum rather than programs driven. Teachers are given the freedom to research and implement supplemental materials to address the standards rather than follow a prescriptive program. We are using data to drive our decisions and this will be addressed in another article.

The recent tragedy in Connecticut makes us realize the delicate balance in nature and how fragile the gift of life really is. Sandy Hook Elementary had an excellent security system that saved many lives.  As a parent it is impossible reading, watching television or talking about the incident without being concerned about your own child’s safety.  Hobbs Municipal School has been very proactive in our approach to security and safety. The foresight of Mr. Burch and Chief Sanders in providing Student Resource Officers has been a very positive move toward reducing criminal activity at the schools.  City Manager J.J. Murphy has been diligent in his position to improve public safety, even before the Sandy Hook tragedy.  The implementation of security cameras in every campus, electronic locks on doors that can be controlled from a central location, SRO’s, emergency plans and encouraging staff and students to report and activity that appears to threaten human life helps HMS prepare for emergency situations.

Hobbs is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.  We are blessed with the support of the community to be able to achieve a friendly and safe environment.  I wish all our staff and students a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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