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Advice for parents and students to make this a successful school year

Monday, August 20, 2012

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With the beginning of a new school year, there is always excitement.

It begins a new year of learning and a new year of friendships and a new year of growth.

Teachers are dedicated to making sure their students have a successful year - but it is important that parents and students themselves take some responsibility as well.

Entering the school year with a positive attitude, said SL second grade teacher Marcia Schmidt, is important.

"The kids should come into the classroom thinking, 'there are lots of things I can learn this year' and 'there are new friends to make.' Every year is a new year, an exciting year, with new students and classrooms."

Parents, too, said Schmidt, who has been teaching for over 30 years, need to have a positive attitude towards their child's education.

The SL District offers welcome conferences for elementary and middle school students and parents to take part in. The attendance is great and offers teachers the opportunity to meet one-on-one with their students and parents to discuss the classroom and teacher expectations for the year.

Fourth grade teachers Kathy McCabe and Anna Phillips share that breakfast is essential for the students to have a good school day. Fortunately, the school district does a great job of providing the service and many, many students wait to eat until they get to the school buildings.

Getting back into a routine after three months off, the fourth grade teachers said, is also important.

"Things run more smoothly with a routine," said McCabe, who has 33 years of teaching experience.

She suggests to prepare for the school day the night before by laying out clothes and packing up book bags because the morning most often gets hectic.

McCabe and Phillips also said it is important that the parents stay informed.

"Parents need to take ownership of their child and what's expected."

Being aware of what's on the school calendar is also important. With technology, teachers are readily available to parents who have questions. Teachers can be reached through emails or by telephone. Some teachers even have blogs on their classroom sites which are accessible to parents.

Students are encouraged to set priorities and to always show good character; the pillars of character are stressed throughout the school year at SL Elementary.

At the high school level, stressed Principal Beau Ruleaux, "the more the parents and the school work together, the more successful the students will be."

High school is an important time academically as students look to their futures of going on to college and preparing for careers.

Students need to be aware of the importance of this time in their lives and take their studies serious; asking for help from teachers is all right and urged. Keeping on schedule and being aware of important deadlines so that homework gets in on time is essential.

Ruleaux added that high school parents will soon have access to the new student management program, JMC. By signing up, parents can receive alerts through email for such things as their child's absence from school, tardiness and even if his or her grade has fallen below a certain target grade.

More information on how parents can sign up will be made available soon.

He also said that parents should encourage their kids to get involved in school activities - and there are plenty out there.

"Research shows students perform so much better in school if they are involved," he said.

And finally, Ruleaux said, parents need to check with their kids and ask them about their studies.

Buena Vista University's Peter Steinfeld shares three pieces of advice that can be of assistance to all ages:

* Go to class! Whether you're in elementary, middle, high school, community college, college or graduate school, nothing is more important than going to class! Attend class! Be present! Engage! Think! Ask questions!

* Read! Read voraciously! Find books of all different types, genres, subjects, styles, etc., and take time to read! Read fiction or nonfiction. Read paperbacks or read on your kindle. Just read!

* Find your passion! Discover what inspires you. You will do your best work with a subject that arouses your passion. The best learning integrates mind with heart! Think compassionately! Feel thoughtfully!



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