2013-05-09 / Youth

Our helping community

Education notes


Sharon Mckinney Sharon Mckinney Years ago, I heard a veteran educator say, regarding the local schools, that “the community gets what the community wants”. This month, I’m completing my third year in Port Aransas Independent School District and I have learned what the community wants: safe schools that provide an excellent education for the children, where students are expected to be respectful and responsible and where parents work alongside teachers to help their children learn and achieve. I’ve also learned that this community does more than just express their “wants;” it goes above and beyond to provide tangible and intangible support to our local schools.

The Port Aransas Education Foundation recently demonstrated their support of our schools by awarding over $112,000 in grants to enrich the learning experiences of our students. With budget cuts looming again, the Port Aransas Education Foundation grants give our teachers the tools (iPads, ebooks, lab equipment and even a much talked-about pool table) and the training to stay ahead of the curve in providing a topnotch education for our community’s children. The Port Aransas community wants our students to have the best academic learning opportunities and the PAEF delivers!

This community also champions the teachers and staff of PAISD. As a principal, I get to hear parents talk about how a teacher went the extra mile to help their child be successful. I read essays written by graduating seniors that describe how a teacher or a coach taught them not just reading and math, but how to persevere through difficulties or how to make good choices when peer pressure seems overwhelming. Research shows that having an effective teacher in the classroom is the most significant factor influencing student academic achievement. In a time where budget constraints do not allow us to truly show our appreciation in their paychecks, our teachers and staff are thanked and appreciated by the words and deeds of Port Aransas students, parents and community members, who acknowledge and value their hard work.

Our students and staff appreciate how the community shows up to support our students. Whether it is a game or a concert, folks come out to cheer on our students in their endeavors. Have you ever noticed the gentlemen sitting in chairs outside the right field fence at softball games? They are two of our substitute teachers, John Sherman and Mark Landrum. We are blessed with a dedicated corps of substitute teachers who show up even on short notice when teachers have to be out, but Sherman and Landrum are also our biggest fans! They show up not only at home games but also on the road to support the Marlins. In addition, Landrum started a student group, the Sand Marlins, and meets up with them at the beach on the weekends to teach them how to build amazing sandcastles. The Sand Marlins won the teen team first place award in the amateur division recently at SandFest! I appreciate so much our community members who sign up to be substitute teachers and ensure that our students are supervised and learn while their regular teachers are out and even support our students in their endeavors outside the classroom.

PAISD employees and students can be found contributing to this community as well: coaching youth teams, teaching Sunday school or picking up trash on the beach. We love our community too and want to do what we can to give back.

We continue to need your support and cooperation in providing an exceptional education for the children in Port Aransas. The pressure is rising while the resources are declining. The good news is that our dedicated staff is committed to overcoming these challenges. Our community has high expectations for our school district and the community will continue to get what the community wants.

Sharon Mckinney is the principal of the Port Aransas High School.

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