Sunday, November 16, 2008

Learning to Read

Today was an important day for our son, Will. Today, it clicked for him and for the first time he was able to take a new book and read all on his own.

With an impeccable memory (for a five-and-a-half year old) he typically memorizes and regurgitates stories back to us after a couple times through. We've been working on stringing sounds together and sounding words out for a while and today it paid off. As a parent, watching your children learn in real time is a humbling experience.

So what's this have to do with sustainability? Everything.

As a country it's no secret that we continue to fall behind the rest of the world in academic performance, particularly in math and science. Closer to home the focus -- at the surface anyway -- is blurred by a seemingly perpetual conflict over funding and contracts. What gets lost are the kids and what we are doing to prepare them for a "flatter" world that will be vastly different from the one we know now.

We need to keep that focus on perpetual learning. We need to find ways to fund programs at all our schools that are innovative as well as invigorating, satisfying to both the brain and the budget. We need to seed our schools with new curricula that reflects our 21st century world and the inherent challenges that it brings; prepare our kids to find cures for the almost insurmountable number of ills that are and will continue to besiege us.

Tiverton is making investments in the physical infrastructure of our school system. Yes, buildings that are bright and clean and outfitted with lots of new things are a good thing. But it's only have the equation. The other half involves stimulating all those minds and inspiring them to connect dots, take the lead, lend a helping hand, and see their role in our future as one of the utmost importance. We must believe in them and their potential at every step of the way.

So with that, I thank all those people and institutions that have helped our son take this first step: Sakonnet Early Learning, the new Ranger School, and especially Essex Library and their supporters for the steady supply of books. Keep up the good work!

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