About 55 percent of teachers say because of the pandemic they’re considering leaving their jobs sooner than they’d planned, according to a poll from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. The association of Texas Professional Educators recently reported to the TEA’s Teacher’s Vacancy Task Force Report that the lack of student accountability aggravated by the pandemic, combined with a temporary relaxation of state accountability requirements, has also caused students to become “apathetic” toward school, in the words of one respondent. Another educator- in the same report – said: “[COVID-19] taught them that they can pass regardless of whether they attended any classes virtually or attempted any work.” Furthermore, the sudden introduction of virtual schooling and its lingering effects, such as continued increased usage of laptops, tablets, and phones, has detracted from traditional classroom teaching, distracted students, and negatively affected students’ social skills.
I see this in our high school and want to validate the above and those conversations with many of you in the classroom and in our community. I do not want to spackle or gloss over. It is a fact and we need to rest up and get ready over the summer for a better 2022-23 without a pandemic.
The great grind with grit
But, I want to also remind us that we have a graduating class of 48, 44 of whom are committed to college/university. And these students are attending an increasingly wider range of competitive universities both in and outside of the State of Texas – From California to Washington to New York. This class scored well above the state and national averages in the SATs and EOCs. Well above. And, they will be accepting an overwhelming number of college credits based on their performance in the OnRamps programs.
And this is a tiny fraction of our kids’ success on the field, court, classroom. The number of new initiatives and learning opportunities that staff and teachers have provided in a year that by all accounts -for the vast majority of the nation – has been to survive or resign? The work accomplished at PAISD has been nothing short of phenomenal. The spaces that teachers and students have created and the relationships we have built is what makes our district and our Marlins special. We have experienced profound loss but demonstrated grit and hope and have much to celebrate.
It is a good word and one with which I will end. The ribbon cutting ceremony for our Marlin Museum brings hope. The Marlin Museum and all that learning showcased from OES – BMS – PAHS brings hope. A spring band concert of sound and quirkiness and mastery brings hope. The class of 2022 holding hands with our pre-K students as we wind our way through the hallways throughout the district brings hope. The outpouring and support of the Port Aransas Education Foundation brings hope. The support of this community brings hope. The tours I lead of students wanting to attend our high school from other districts and the wide eyes of the applicants as they see the learning and the engagement brings more than a little pride and hope. The quiet conversations I see in the hallways between students and teachers brings hope. The love and care demonstrated on a daily basis from our teaching staff brings hope.
Hope is a powerful agent. It keeps us moving forward and allows us space to grow, take risks, fail and try again the next day. Hope allows for that teacher and student to meet in the classroom or the sports field and get after it everyday to ensure a better tomorrow. Trite, perhaps, but I know personally that hope is a real force. It is why I am excited to celebrate this Class of 2022 and I am even more excited to welcome the Class of 2026 in August.
Final data point if you get this far: there are roughly 30 different Marlin faculty members handing out diplomas to the class of 2022 – from kindergarten to 12th grade to the PAISD staff. That is amazing and that is the impact of you, our Marlins, on our kids at every level. That is hope. I am looking forward to taking another exciting leap of faith with you all in August with hope as the springboard. Until then, I wish everyone a healthy, peaceful, engaging summer. Let’s make sure we take care of one another. Always.