Author: Marina Wilcox, Dean of Academics, Roscoe Collegiate ISD
C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “ You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”.
The phrase “traditional education” can be interpreted many different ways. The perspective of educators, administrators, law makers, parents and students, can and will, always have a different spin. “It worked for me and I turned out just fine”, “ we need to let our children slow down and enjoy high school, they can figure out what they are going to do in college”, “ Why do I need to take that class?”, “this is not fun” and the list goes on and on. The world in which we live is a rapidly changing and evolving mix of culture, economy, technology, and politics. Moving the hands of Father Time as it relates to education must fast forward into the 21stcentury incorporating and requiring relevance, rigor and agency for our students; thus enabling them to become successful contributing citizens in our everchanging world. I believe this to be true for ALL students. I emphatically believe that this holds true for our RURAL population of students.
In my thirty years of being in secondary and post-secondary education, as a classroom teacher, counselor, advisor and administrator, the buzz words of reform have been circulating. Authentic, personalization, higher level thinking, fidelity, data points/driven, and best practices are several that have been on the forefront for quite some time. Have we really seen evidence of this taking place in our classrooms and on our campuses? More importantly, have we seen this develop in our rural communities and campuses?
Having one common goal of putting students first should be the foundation for growth and innovation. Students need to become intrinsically engaged and fulfilled, which will increase aspirations for growth, agency and ownership in their academic outcomes. Students need to be prepared for college and career success through authentic hands on opportunities. Students need to be aware of their community and how to study, analyze, and provide hypothesized solutions to regionally relevant problems. Putting this all together produces our future leaders and problem solvers, locally, across the state, and the nation.
Being a part of the Roscoe Collegiate ISD team and daily implementing the pillars of a fully engaged P-20 system, I am made acutely aware of the results this model is able to produce. The challenges facing rural communities are great, and often overlooked by our urban neighbors. Providing technology in multiple layers and formats for all students. Providing access to meaningful yet rigorous educational opportunities, both secondary and post-secondary. Providing career and workforce readiness skills. Providing a network of community and industry leaders to engage face to face with students and parents. Incorporating the meaning of our rural heritage and its necessary components with 4H and TX AgriLife. Each of these elements are integral to the other. Each element is necessary to complete the educational journey of our students.
It takes daily focus and work.
It takes determination.
It requires taking chances.
It is not always easy.
The result is priceless.