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home : schools : schools April 28, 2016

8/28/2013 2:01:00 PM
Guest Essay: Making Connections and Building Relationships in the New (School) Year
By Eric Witherspoon, ETHS Superintendent


Sometimes it feels as if in America we operate on two equally influential calendars: the Gregorian calendar and the school calendar. True, we all celebrate New Year’s Eve and the start of a new year on January 1, but what about the importance of each new school year?

Much of our culture and economy is calibrated with the school calendar: summer vacations, the unofficial arrival of fall, retail sales, tourism, housing leases, families moving or relocating, daycare, spring break, youth and family camps, summer jobs and so much more.

Everyone in this country seems to be either attending school, has attended school, and/or has children, grandchildren, or a family member attending school. School is embedded in our culture, and for good reasons.

What could be more important to any society that educating our youth? In this country as in many countries, schooling is at the center of the human experience in the 21st century.

Every job and career has specific educational requirements. Every job application asks for educational background. Education level correlates with health, housing, income, life expectancy, crime, careers, employment and more. School is a driver in our lives. Education matters.

So with the importance of school in our daily lives, and the importance of education throughout our lives, it makes sense that we at ETHS want to continue making connections and building relationships with all our stakeholders: our community, parents and guardians, grandparents, higher education, organizations and agencies, the business community, non-for-profit providers, the faith community, and city and state officials.

School-aged children need the support of us all, and the education of all citizens is vital to the well-being of our entire community.

As the new school year begins, I encourage you to get connected. Commit yourself to look for ways you can connect with ETHS or another school, or ways to get involved in the many opportunities that support the needs of young people.

It might be through a service organization, a local provider serving youth such as the McGaw YMCA, YWCA, the Evanston Community Foundation, Y.J.C., the ETHS Booster Club, Y.O.U., the ETHS Educational Foundation, or a place of worship. You might support or sponsor a scholarship fund like Warren W. “Billy” Cherry or a youth leadership academy like Justin Wynn, volunteer as a youth coach, serve as a mentor or tutor, support Evanston’s early childhood providers, or attend a school athletic or performing arts event to cheer on our young people.

There are so many ways to enrich the growth and learning of our community’s children; I have only mentioned a few.

No matter what your age or life experience, I’m sure that helping young people will bring a smile to your face and add fulfillment to your life.

We are also doing more at ETHS to make connections. While our commitment to provide the best education for all our students is strong, we are redoubling our efforts to building relationships because we recognize the unstoppable power of our collective impact.

We want to connect more with our stakeholders, and we want to build even stronger relationships with our students. We know when students feel connected to their school and have meaningful relationships with their teachers and other adults, they do better academically.

Putting that knowledge to work, one of our notable initiatives this fall is the implementation of advisory study halls for all freshmen, a structure that will increase relationship building with counselors, teachers and other staff members at ETHS while helping students make strong connections during their first year of high school.

Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” As a community of learners, we all benefit when we connect with one another and with our young people. We all benefit when we nurture, support, grow and educate the youth in our community from cradle to career so they will live productive lives and maximize their human destiny.

At ETHS, we are excited about this new school year. We are already hard at work building relationships and striving to do our best for each student. We are thankful for all of you who will make connections that benefit the education of young people in our community. You will be touching young lives. You will be touching the future.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Happy New Year.  







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