- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Tables compile ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ lists
By LAURA DUKES
Consistant rules, confidentiality, objectiveness and enthusiasm.
These were some of the “do’s” of being a positive public school staff member as discussed Nov. 8 at Calvert County Public Schools’ second “What Counts” community forum.
The forum was held at Calvert High School and had about 55 attendees RSVP. The attendees were divided into groups to have “kitchen table” conversations about the “do’s and don’ts” of positive school system staff.
The first What Counts was held in February 2011 and focussed on what should be looked at in a school system other than test scores.
This year’s event was moderated by Kitty Blumsack, the director of board development with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, who first asked all attendees to write down their best and worst experiences with the school system.
Blumsack then asked the tables to discuss those experiences — without naming specific individuals or schools — and compile lists for the table of qualities they thought made or weakened a strong school system staff.
“There are no right or wrong answers. ... It’s OK to disagree,” Blumsack told the tables, all of which had a mix of parents, school system staff and people with leadership roles in the community.
Calvert High School teacher Travis Mister said his “do’s” included communication and the ability to listen and build relationships with students.
“And to be able to reach each child no matter what the circumstance is,” Mister said, continuing that his main “don’t” was underestimating students.
“Don’t settle for anything less, even if a child isn’t happy about that,” Mister said.
CCPS parent Susan Watkins said she wanted to know that her children were truly being challenged by their teachers.
“Instead of just giving them an ‘A’ in math, I want them to apply that math,” said Watkins, who said she wanted to see “private school quality” even in a public school environment.
“I want our kids to be more accountable. It’s not about being so nice, nice,” Watkins said.
Some of the “don’ts” that came from the tables’ lists included yelling; belittling; being resistant to change; indifference; favoritism toward one student or student group; defensiveness; and apathy.
Huntingtown High School junior Ed Town said his table “definitely had some recent ideas of what’s happening.”
He said the worst thing school staff could be was intimidating, though he added that issue was rare at his school.
“The biggest ‘do’ is people who go above and beyond. There’s a lot of people like that at my school. ... They don’t get recognized enough,” Town said.
College of Southern Maryland Prince Frederick Vice President Richard Fleming said his experience with CCPS had been one big “do” thus far.
“This district wants to work with us and it’s always what’s best for the kids,” Fleming said. “Every time we talk to [CCPS Superintendent Jack Smith] and his staff it’s ‘lets do it.’”
Once the tables completed and posted their lists, attendees were asked to pick a partner from another table and compare their respective lists.
Former Calvert County Board of Education member Bill Phalen said he was pleased to see how many of the event’s attendees and the individuals at his table seemed to be on the same page.
“You’re there to serve them, not vice versa,” Phalen said of a school system staff’s relationship to students. “And you need to know your community beyond the school.”
The lists will ultimately be reviewed by the Calvert County Board of Education and the CCPS Citizens Advisory Committee, or CAC, which will prepare a report.
Town said he was a current member of the CAC.
“They’re a really diverse group of people who really care about the school system,” he said.