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Guest Blog by Bill Burkhead, Educator of the Week

All Kids Can SUCCEED – Be the “1”


There has been much debate in education on who is ultimately responsible for a child’s learning.  In a perfect world the parents would be the child’s first teachers. They would then work closely with the best educators in the best schools using the best curriculum.  The students would receive an equitable education in a beautiful facility and then attend college for free, or enter the work force or military with strong values and appropriate skills. If this were happening with every child we wouldn’t have debate on how we educate our children in America.  But as you know, this is the exception, not the rule.
I don’t mean to trivialize such a complex debate, but I will attempt to simplify.  It starts with 1 caring adult who shows genuine interest in a child and believes wholeheartedly that they can, and will SUCCEED.  This adult must then commit to doing “whatever it takes” to help that child succeed.  This adult can be a parent, teacher, sibling, friend, relative, administrator, grandparent, etc.  An emotion we don’t often talk about in education is LOVE.  We have too many children in our schools that don’t feel loved.  This 1 adult offers this through caring, sharing and advocating for the child.  My personal education philosophy is to treat each child as if they were my own.  That means care for them, love them, discipline them and treat them with respect.  If every child had at least 1 adult in their corner, they could succeed.  Will that adult be you?
I can relate to children who may have it tough, and that is why I always knew I would be a teacher.  I was fortunate to have two loving parents, who instilled in me that school, sports and a strong work ethic were important.  I grew up in the projects on government cheese & food stamps.  But I was happy and enjoyed school, because I was loved.  I would go to the school gym on Saturday’s for “Boys Gym” where we’d play bombardment and other fun games.  I’ll never forget when the instructor of Saturday school pulled me aside and told me that an EDUCATION was the meal ticket to success.  He told me to get out of the projects.  I remember asking myself at 10 years old- how can I get out of the projects I’m only a kid?
Looking back, I realize that by relentlessly pursuing an education I was able to reach my goals and enjoy a quality life.  I also realize that I was fortunate enough to have more than 1 adult care about me.  I wasn’t concerned with my socio-economic status, how nice my school building looked, or how many great teachers I had.  I was intrinsically motivated to succeed because people I trusted and respected valued education & did “whatever it took” to make sure I understood that.

Imagine how many children out there have NO adult support, attention and love?  I hope that after reading this you can think of a child who may need your attention, support and love and become the 1.