I hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and the many blessings of living in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. Despite the strange weather we’ve been experiencing, the calendar indicates that winter will officially arrive in just a few weeks. The onset of winter also marks the ending of the first semester of the school year with either midterm or final exams and projects due for the upper grades. It’s always surprising how quickly time goes by, especially when talking to our recent graduates who were kind enough to come back to Gateway to share their college experiences with our current students.
As always, it was great to see so many Gateway graduates at our yearly college fair. This opportunity to speak with our graduates and get some insight into their college and life experiences to date is both informative and interesting. The mix of colleges and universities that our graduates attend is diverse and eclectic, showcasing the preparation and quality of our students for the next educational level. It’s also interesting to see how just a year or two make such a difference for some of our students in terms of maturity, poise, and confidence. Despite the challenges of school, the outlook for finding a job after college, and the general feeling of malaise in society, it’s nice to see young people excited about life and pleased with the choices they’ve made at this point in their life. Hopefully their positive outlook will continue and the opportunities they see will come to fruition.
The college fair is just one of the many opportunities our guidance department provides for our students to think about, plan for, and apply to post-secondary education. This is a long-range process for the department that begins well before our students’ junior and senior years with the idea of encouraging interest and, perhaps more importantly, planning out their courses in high school to prepare for admittance into their school or program of choice. Between financial planning, taking the right courses, scoring well on the SAT’s or placement tests, selecting extra-curricular activities that are of interest to the student as well as admissions officers, and dealing with the pressures of being a teenager in our society, these years are certainly not the easiest of their young lives. The efforts of our guidance department, teachers, paraprofessionals, and the rest of our staff to meet our students’ needs, provide some direction, be role models, and help support our families, is extremely important to our children’s success during these critical years in which they build upon the knowledge and skills they developed during their earlier years in school and at home.
I hope that everyone will join me in appreciating, and letting school staff know, that they’re doing a great job in continuing to develop our students into successful adults–something that seems to be critically lacking in dialogue from our national leaders in both government and industry. As the world changes, I’m reminded of the saying that “the only constant is change,” and I hope that the pendulum of public opinion has reached its apex in terms of negativism and will start to move in the opposite direction and we’ll once again honor those individuals for whom teaching is more than just a career.