2013-11-21 / Youth

Family matters

Education notes

Joe Kocurek Joe Kocurek I was thinking about what I was going to write about in my Education notes yesterday and nothing was jumping out at me. I made the decision to put everything to the side, procrastinate a little longer and head out for a quiet birthday dinner with my family. Well, that quiet birthday turned into a surprise party with 50-plus people from students to my immediate family, to my fellow workers and friends. I was caught completely off-guard and was deeply moved once again by the people of this community.

Then, as I sat pondering on how to save the planet late last night, a thought kept coming back to me. The family is the most important part of the education of our students today, as it was 56 years ago when I entered first grade at I.W. Popham Elementary School in Del Valle.

Yes, the one biggest influential component of our students’ educational development 56 years later is still the family. However, what has changed in our students’ life is the family itself.

Basically gone are the family sit-down meals where every member would relate the day’s events to one another. Secrets were hard to keep. It was kind of hard to make up a story because the other siblings would let you know exactly what had really transpired at school, or elsewhere. The whole family knew who the boyfriends and girlfriends were, and if there really was a slumber party at Julie’s house! Gone are the sit-down moments with the students to help with their homework. Either the homework is too difficult for us as parents or the student can’t remember how it is done because the teacher wasn’t very clear explaining the assignment to the class. “I will go to the teacher early and have them explain it”, is the mutual decision. Sometimes that happens, but I would be very careful about betting anything on it actually happening.

Let’s not forget the testedover time response of “I don’t have any homework, or I did it all at school.” So now the students hook up with fellow students and go about doing their own thing with a million options at their disposal.

So the family is no longer limited to just the parents and their siblings, but it also includes the whole community surrounding and supporting our schools.

The influence that community has on the development of students and our schools is overwhelming. All you have to do is to look at the monetary support the Port Aransas Education Foundation has provided for all of our campuses and disciplines. It is incredible what they are able to accomplish year after year in fundraising for the district. The teachers are able to enhance the delivery and quality of instruction with the support of PAEF. Seeing half of the raised revenue (school taxes) going to the poorer school districts, we are very fortunate to have such community involvement and interest in the success of our schools to fill the void that has been created by those lost monies.

Parents should still take the initiative in overseeing their child’s education. Students shouldn’t be sent to school so that trained educators and staff can discipline them; that is our responsibility as parents. Teachers and staff should only have to maintain and monitor their classroom discipline, and spend their time stimulating and challenging the students. Students on the other hand should be eager and willing to enhance their own educational development. The intrigue of finding solutions, writing a profound piece of poetry, following the many subplots in a classic novel, or expressing themselves with water colors should be the things that invigorate our students to venture beyond.

So with the constant changes taking place in the global world we live in, it is a challenge to us all to permeate that quality of family among the people of Port Aransas. Students, parents, teachers and community members and merchants - I find that there already is a sense of family in this community and it only needs to be nurtured.

Parents reinforce the guidelines of the schools and teachers reinforce the values of the parents.

Students. embrace these years and the community around you. Be as curious as you can! Remember when saying “why” could drive a parent nuts? Well all I can tell you is keep asking “why.” Teachers, keep inspiring the student who never speaks out or the one who will never be quiet. I see all the time teachers who help those students break out of their shells and express themselves. One of the real pleasures for me in education is either being a part of that scenario or watching it unfold.

I tell my basketball players every year that we will never be successful unless we become a family. Well, I think we are on the fast track to success in Port Aransas, because we have all the ingredients of becoming a family already in place. We have the community, the teachers, the students, the staff, and most of all, our parents. It is a pleasure to be a part of Port Aransas community and family.

Joe Kocurek is a math teacher at Brundrett Middle School and head Marlins varsity basketball coach.

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