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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 20, 2011 Board Comments

This was an interesting four years. I think the most challenging aspect was keeping everything about our students. When the Board and the administrators are in the midst of building projects, financial challenges, strategic direction debates, even discussing school improvement plans, it is hard to keep in mind that every child in our district is facing personal challenges every day.

Many Portage students are very successful facing their challenges and go on to very rewarding lives. I myself know a graduate from West Point, a reporter at National Geographic, a Broadway performer, the CEO of a Leadership Institute in South Africa, just to name a few. The success of our new Alumni Newsletter is testimony to the hundreds of Portage graduates living their dreams. We are all quite proud of the achievements of these people who graduated from our school.

But our challenge is to also remember those who are not as successful facing their challenges. I met a mother of three Portage students, the oldest had dropped out, the second was struggling to read in Middle School. This mother couldn’t read past fifth grade. She was embarrassed to reach out to her son’s teachers. She was afraid for her children. I have known Portage students who struggle reading, who cannot multiply, who have been bullied, who have been unfairly punished, who have dropped-out, who got mixed up with drugs. I have shared the pain and sadness of parents whose children suffered great tragedy.

Just as a school district cannot claim all the credit for their graduates successes, nor can we be held totally accountable for the lack of success. But I believe my fellow Board members and our staff realize that we do play an important part in the lives of all our students and their families. We do make a difference. And yes, we can and we should be very proud of all the wonderful things we do for our students, but the challenge is to do all we must to enable each and every student to succeed.