Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day when we gather with family and friends and celebrate that for which we are grateful. It's a time for reflection, celebration and, of course, food.
Last week we marked another kind of holiday the weeklong celebration of public schools called "American Education Week". This is the 90th anniversary of American Education week, a time when communities across the nation reflect on the value of quality public schools and celebrate the opportunities schools provide.
The purpose of a quality education is to prepare students for success beyond our doors. It should provide students with the tools and skills they need to become productive members of society. It should teach them to be independent thinkers, problem solvers, and good citizens.
In Marshalltown Community School District citizenship is one of the cornerstones of our mission to "nurture students to become intellectually and personally empowered for citizenship in a changing world." During American Education Week I had the opportunity to witness first-hand two separate events where students exhibited the skills of intelligent, thoughtful citizens.
Both events involved students interacting directly with elected public officials the very people charged with overseeing education in our state and in our nation. On Tuesday Marshalltown High School hosted Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds as they toured the state discussing their Education Blueprint. The event was open to the public, but the largest portion of the crowd was the MHS Class of 2012. After the governor made his opening remarks and opened up the meeting for questions many hands went up among the students.
It was clear as the students began speaking they were well prepared. They had taken time to examine the blueprint, discuss the contents, and formulate focused, insightful questions. Their interaction with the governor exemplified the meaning of citizenship.
A few days later, another group of high school students had the opportunity to talk with US Senator Charles Grassley. Using Skype, students in Contemporary Social Issues classes talked with the senator from his office in Washington. Again, students were prepared with well-informed questions about current issues in our nation.
In both instances, students showed not only great critical thinking, but also great respect.
It was fitting both of these visits coincided with American Education Week. During a week when we celebrate the positive outcomes of public education, it was great to see students from Marshalltown Community Schools embodying the traits of informed, respectful citizens. That is at the core of our mission as a district and I'm grateful I and our public officials got to see it in action.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Jason Staker is Director of Communications for Marshalltown Community School District.