ConVal is progressive

Several weeks ago, the Monadnock Center and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript hosted a community education forum where we heard from three invited speakers about the future of education in our school districts. The speakers gave their perspective on the what will be important considerations for our students in the 21st century. Also in attendance were approximately 30 community members that included parents, business owners and educators who also contributed their perspective on what they felt were important considerations in regards to education for the future.

The event was respectful and offered the opportunity for many to contribute, listen, and ponder where we are heading with what is best for the students of our district.

As the ConVal High School principal, I offered, as suggested in a recent Ledger-Transcript editorial, that I like all of the ideas that were suggested, but I would also like to share what the editorial did not make reference to. What wasn’t referenced in the editorial was that much of what was suggested in this forum is happening right here in your ConVal district schools. Creative uses of technology, hands-on learning, involving community, connecting students with their passions through co- and extra-curricular activities, parent involvement, a focus on critical skills, and personalizing education for each student were all referenced as important, and there are very clear examples of that happening in our local schools.

I am grateful to work in a district that has supported education and our community members should feel good about how that support has paid off. In my opinion, the next critical investment is in our dedicated and talented teachers. With all the important investments we have made, none will be more important than supporting a competitive teacher contract. Our facilities, technology and programs are all important, but what the research continues to tell us is that nothing is more effective in helping students learn than great teachers. Our district has those great teachers, and when the time comes to recruit new and talented ones, we need to prioritize this upcoming contract above all else.

There is certainly more work to be done and we must reflect on ways to improve and plan for the future with a clear vision that can be communicated to all of our stakeholders. We also know we must continue to be fiscally responsible with respect to our taxpayers and the funding challenges we all face, but as I have suggested before, if we invest and get education right, our local towns and communities will all benefit.

Brian Pickering is the principal of ConVal High School.

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