It’s instructive at the start of each school year to take a look at the big picture. 2019 stats for the school division inform us about our students (11,061 of them) and about our facilities (11 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools and one alternative learning school).
Looking a little closer, we see that of our 1,911 employees, 950 are teachers.
Statistics on students (for fall 2018) tell us that 67.9 percent are white, 7.6 percent are black/African American and 5.4 percent identify with two or more races. A little more than 17.1 percent claim Hispanic ethnicity. Nine percent are English language learners and 25.5 percent are classified as “economically disadvantaged.”
In fact, for those education nerds among us, this website digs deep on how students are doing in reading, math and science, and breaks it down by race and ethnicity: http://schoolquality.virginia.gov/divisions/fauquier-county-public-schools#desktopTabs-2. The site even includes data on college preparedness and disciplinary offenses.
It’s all interesting and perhaps helpful. But there is a lot that the stats don’t tell us. They don’t tell us how which students can’t get their homework done because they don’t have access to the internet at home. They don’t tell us which children have serious anxiety over their grades, or who is feeling sad and lonely.
They can’t tell us which kids are hiding the fact that they are struggling to read. They can’t tell us which elementary school kids get themselves off to school in the mornings because their parents have to be on the road to work. And they can’t tell us which high school seniors are seriously stressed out over the college admission process.
Fauquier County teachers are being exposed to a variety of training sessions before the first school bell rings. The multi-sensory reading education explained in this issue (page 5) is a good example. The idea is to help students learn to read by employing multi-sensory tactics. Instead of assuming that all students learn the same way, the technique meets each child where they are.
Parents in Fauquier know the value of this idea. It is every parent’s first concern: “It’s nice to have classrooms that support most students. But what about my kid?”
Fortunately, we all know teachers who have the insight to give a child exactly what they need in a particular moment.
Superintendent of Schools David Jeck says that teacher preparation revolves around helping educators recognize what their students need. “We talk a lot about equity. Equity is about reducing the number of negative outcomes for kids. That means fewer kids failing, fewer kids being disciplined, fewer kids who are bored.”
Jeck wants to see his teachers and coaches take the time to get to know their students. He is sympathetic to how much teachers have to do, but says, “You’re going to spend the time either way. You can expend your time and energy dealing with behavior in class or spend it building a relationship with the kids.”
As the first school buses get ready to roll next Wednesday, let’s all agree to support our teachers as they prepare for a tough job – helping your child reach their potential.