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Guest Column: Reg Mcshane

Reflecting on what's really important

Many "hot-button" issues will impact our schools and communities in the coming weeks. Some of them are:

* SB 426, the health insurance pooling legislation that was recently passed;

* The school funding package that the Legislature will soon decide;

* The recent failure of the State of Oregon's contract with our computer testing contractor (and how it will put tremendous pressure on the state, districts, teachers, and students to meet accountability requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind act); and

* The many concerns that must be addressed in our local budgeting process, including dealing with declining enrollments.

My views pn any one of the above issues could easily fill the 500 words I'm allotted for this column. I prefer, however, to share with you what I believe is to be the most important of all: the great things happening in our schools thanks to the dedication and support of staff, parents, students, and our community.

Our elementary fifth graders attend outdoor school in the fall (when they go to the coast) and the spring (to central Oregon) because they, along with staff, parents and community members work hard raising funds, planning and organizing to provide this experience for our kids.

Our middle school leadership class, in a cooperative effort with Amity Elementary, delivers a "Hands Are Not For Hurting" curriculum to our kindergarteners. They also collect clothes and other necessary items, and donate them to St Vincent DePaul for needy families.

Amity FFA, in partnership with Perrydale FFA, collects and distributes tons of food to three counties in Oregon.

Amity Middle School students plan, organize, and present a Veterans Day assembly honoring local seterans and recognizing the sacrifices of all seterans.

The Amity High School leadership class, along with the ASB officers, organizes several fund-raising activities for Doernbeckers Children Hospital.

The Amity Parent Teachers Association, the Amity Booster Club, and the Amity Education Foundation work year-round to provide support -- financial and physical -- to our schools and the young people who attend.

You can see that what I view as most important: our young people having the hands-on experiences that teach them about the world we live in. It's important to me to live, work, and have my children attend schools that will accept nothing less.

The 2006-2007 school year has brought adversity to our schools and community. Earlier this year, one of our third graders was diagnosed with leukemia (she is in my daughter's class). Just recently, our middle school English teacher was diagnosed with lung cancer. In response, our staff, students, parents, and community have pulled together and the outpouring of support and encouragement has been phenomenal.

In Amity, I believe we have an extended family. What is important is that we recognize the value of that extended family, and willingly make the sacrifices to keep it strong!

It is because of this relationship that we continue to provide a comprehensive education.

--

Reg McShane is superintendent of the Amity School District.

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