I am honored to be your superintendent, and I appreciate the opportunity to communicate directly with students about my priorities and expectations. I hope this will be the start of an ongoing conversation.
One of my top priorities is listening to our students. I want to hear your perspectives on what is going well, what isn’t, and how you think we can make things better. To this end, I have created a student advisory committee made up of SHHS students. We had our first meeting earlier this month, and they are a fantastic group of young people who are not afraid to speak their minds. I am excited about working with them to identify challenges in Shaker Schools as well as solutions for overcoming some of these challenges. I want to hear from other students as well. When you see me around, please come introduce yourself and tell me what’s on your mind.
Another major concern for me is the achievement and opportunity gap. We offer amazing opportunities here in Shaker, but not all students are getting the full benefit of a Shaker education. I want to find out why, so that we can work together to make it better for everybody.
I will do everything I can to support you, but I will not accept excuses from anyone not taking advantage of educational opportunities in Shaker. I am living proof that demography and life circumstances are not destiny. I grew up in a single-parent household, and at times received reduced lunch meals at school. I attended schools that were very similar to Shaker in regards to diversity and accelerated opportunities for education. However, I had to advocate and protest to be given opportunities to enroll in advanced level courses in high school. It is my expectation that all students will be given access to any course in Shaker Schools as well as supports to be successful.
Every student in this school has the potential to go far. I have learned from my own life experience that certain choices lead to success in school. Here is what I am asking you to do:
Take your studies seriously. Get to class on time and ready to learn. Pay attention in class and do your work.
If you need help, ask. Take advantage of the conference period and tutoring center. Talk with your teacher, your counselor, your principal/assistant principal, the nurse, or the social worker. The adults at the High School want you to succeed and are here to help you.
Choose your friends wisely. Associate with people who share your values and aspirations. Don’t let anybody drag you down.
Challenge yourself. Take a t least one honors, AP, or IB course. Take on a service project or try out for a team. Don’t limit yourself.
Participate. Joining a club, performing community service, or playing a sport will make your life better in many ways.
Take care of yourself. Eat well, get adequate sleep, and be physically active. Stay away from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
If you do these things, I guarantee you will succeed.
So let’s make a pledge to hold each other accountable. I promise to do everything in my power, working with our faculty and community, to make your school experience the best it can possibly be.
In return, I need you to give 100% every day. Don’t be surprised if I pop into a classroom to observe, or approach you in the hall to ask about your grades or to discuss the choices you are making.
It’s not about playing “gotcha.” It’s about respecting you enough to make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities Shaker has to offer.
Learn more about Dr. Hutchings and his plans for the school district at www.shaker.org/superintendent.aspx, and follow him on Twitter @DrHutchings