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Education Matters: Be a difference maker in a child's life

--Jamie Benson, River Falls School District Superintendent

Be a difference maker in a child’s life

It’s that time of the year — teachers and support staff returned this past Monday to start the 2013-14 school year and students begin school next week on Sept. 3.

This summer our staff has been attending college, working on new lesson plans, learning new uses for technology in the classroom, and developing innovative learning experiences for our students.

We finalized our building projects in three schools, and our classrooms will soon become learning greenhouses inspired by our very professional and knowledgeable teachers.

River Falls School District will be implementing many new district initiatives this year.

For example, we will move forward with our 1-to-1 iPad initiative for all 8th and 9th grade students. (See A section for more information about the 1-to-1 iPad initiative.)

We will also begin a new teacher effectiveness evaluation model, continue curriculum alignment and sequence, and implement a host of new technology improvements.

We already know that our schools are top-notch learning institutions yet we will always look for ways to improve. Such improvement is the result of dedicated teachers, counselors, administrators, staff, and a board of education who take pride in their work.

Teachers assume the awesome responsibility of helping to shape and mold the minds and lives of our young people to function effectively in our complex world of today as well as for an unknown future.

They have chosen a career that requires them to inspire, motivate, and empower our students — not just feed them information. They lead by example not just for “learning” but also through character and role modeling.

If you think about it, schools are just brick structures, but life is brought to those buildings through our nurturing and caring staff and by the students who come to school eager to learn.

In our continuous quest to reform schools we often forget that it’s not the new program that makes the difference — it is the people who are charged with implementing these initiatives that really make the difference that ultimately affects the lives of students.

In closing, schools can’t do it alone.

We need parent interest in school activities and understanding that regular communication with teachers has a huge impact on how your child views school and the whole learning process.

In the coming months, I look forward to our work together with students and their families as we all strive to be a “difference maker” in the lives of our students.

--Jamie Benson, River Falls School District Superintendent