Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Support the Future of Your Schools and Your Students

Monday, March 31, 2014

On April 8, the patrons of the Marshall Public School District have an opportunity to become a part of something great. An opportunity to invest in the future of Marshall and its most precious resource: ITS CHILDREN.

An investment in the children of the school district is an investment that pays dividends in the future. The founding fathers of this country knew this. A strong educational system was essential in creating a strong, educated society; a society that grew into the most successful country ever on the face of this earth. Research shows that dollars spent on education means fewer dollars that have to be spent on trying to cure social woes down the road.

As educators, we know that new school buildings are not the cure-all for the district's educational problems. We know that quality teachers are the number one indicator of student achievement. Quality teachers look for ways to implement new ideas and processes that have been proven to work and encourage student learning.

The Marshall School District hires the best teachers available. The administrative team vets out the candidates for a teaching position very thoroughly. Just like in any industry, sometimes those hires do not work out the way that you had expected and a change is needed. Even so, the goal is to hire the best and the brightest, and adjustments are made on the way, always moving forward, striving for excellence.

Quality teachers need quality support and quality resources to be as effective as possible. The district spends tens of thousands of dollars on quality professional development annually to further develop our teaching staff. The professional development that teachers participate in has to be linked to the district's goals and objectives. Putting all the pieces together to impact student achievement effectively is like putting together a large puzzle. You try out a different piece and when it doesn't fit, you try another until you have accomplished your goal of assembling a pictorial masterpiece. In the Marshall Public Schools, we have spent years putting together the different pieces, trying out new things and processes. Our goal is to put together an educational program that is one of the best in the state of Missouri. But we have a missing piece. Our puzzle is incomplete. And like an incomplete puzzle, the rest of the pieces are doing their best at doing their part, but until the final piece is in place, they cannot perform to their full potential. Our school buildings are the missing piece. Our current buildings are not designed for the way our teachers need to teach to be their best. Our current buildings have issues with heating and cooling that create a serious distraction to our students, making the job of the teacher even harder. Our teachers cannot effectively implement new and challenging programs for our students because they do not have the space and resources necessary to do so. Valuable instructional time is lost with students moving from trailers (mobile classrooms) to the main buildings. Safety and security is almost non-existent for students who are housed in the trailers. This creates another distraction in the back of the minds of our teachers, students and administrators. Any tradesman will tell you that to do a job right you have to have the right tools. In education, the building is a tool. Our main tools in the district are worn out and obsolete. Everything that we do as educators is made more difficult because the buildings are a hindrance to effective education. Students are currently crammed in places that used to be closets and stages.... places that were never designed to be a classroom. I could go on and on about deficiencies of our current school buildings.

Every generation is asked to step up and do something that is a personal sacrifice for the greater good of the community. I have only been in Marshall for about a year and a half, but the thing that I have learned is that this community supports its own. Marshall Public Schools is your own school. We are asking you to support your own school, your own community and your own children. We are asking that you help us complete the puzzle. Voting "YES" on April 8 will tell us that you support these essential things. Voting "YES" will send the message that you want to make a personal sacrifice to be a part of something bigger for the future of the Marshall community.

Sincerely,

Ryan Huff, Marshall
Marshall Public Schools Superintendent