Graduate to something, not just from somewhere

It is hard to believe that I am embarking on four months as Superintendent of Lufkin ISD. It is simply amazing how fast time flies. I am privileged to work with a Board of Trustees that supports the efforts of the educators in our schools and is focused on making a positive difference for all students in Lufkin ISD. I am blessed with passionate staff members who are focused on ensuring that all students — regardless of their race, gender, or the economic status of their parents — experience high-quality learning activities. I am proud to work in a community and to work for students and families who value education. I recognize the importance of strengthening partnerships with our parents, our community, our businesses and industry, and our higher education institutions to ensure that our students graduate from Lufkin High School with more than just a high school diploma. Let me be clear, we want our students to graduate from high school to high success. In the past, a high school diploma was a ticket to the middle class. Today, having only a high school diploma is a ticket to poverty considering that the cost of living is continually increasing.

We are all familiar with the saying “it takes a village,” but I am certain that it takes a team. It takes partnerships, and all of you are on Team Lufkin ISD to ensure that all of our students walk across the stage and graduate to something and not just from somewhere.

A strong partnership with parents is crucial. We need parents to be actively involved in their child’s education by sending them to school every day the door is open. Going to school every day is not only a choice you make when you wake up in the morning. It is an expectation of excellence. According to www.BoostUp.org, when your child misses 18 or more days of school in a year, their graduation is in jeopardy. Being absent just two days every month of the school year can put a child behind academically. We need parents to continually communicate the importance of an education to their children. Another partnership is a connection with the community. This includes churches and civic organizations among others. All of these entities help students see the big picture. When the community has the same message to support our students, it in turn helps the student to overcome social challenges.

Business and Industry is a partnership that can be life changing for our students, preparing them for meaningful jobs. We want Lufkin ISD students to explore career options so they can envision a future occupation. Students as young as elementary age must be exposed to jobs from engineering to healthcare to begin setting goals early in life.

Our partnership with colleges and universities helps us to evaluate all options and capitalize on opportunities to extend learning beyond the K-12 classroom. Whether accumulating college hours or earning a certification, it is this partnership with higher education that will provide a bridge from graduation to a lifelong career.

We have a moral obligation and an ethical responsibility to educate children. We can no longer exist in isolation. We can no longer just focus on our own. We have to take ownership because we are all benefactors of these efforts. Education is the only long-term solution to eliminate poverty and change futures. When I stand on the stage at John Outlaw Field to shake hands with our graduating seniors, I want to be certain that this is not the end, but that our students are graduating with more than a diploma — choices and opportunities.

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