I had the opportunity to attend Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s One By One Convention with over five hundred other people in our community. This event was huge! The mission of the event, to move public education forward, drew me to apply to be a delegate at the convention. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect except that we were going to spend the day talking about the status of education in our community.
Highlights of the Day
1. Spotlight on Students: We had breakfast made by students from local high schools. Salmon cakes with grits! Yum! A boys choir and female dancers performed. They were awesome!
2. Everyone sat at assigned tables where there was a JPEF volunteer coordinator. I was impressed that each table had a diverse group of citizens with teachers, students, business owners, and other people in our community. In our groups we discussed and charted specific ways to help move public education forward in our community.
3. Mayor Alvin Brown gave a speech about his passion for improving education in Jacksonville and programs that have been implemented to move education forward such as a summer jobs program for youth and the Young Leaders Advisory Council.
4. Superintendent Vitti gave an informative presentation describing all the programs and organizations that have been put in place to help students succeed.
5. At lunch we all separated to our chosen break out sessions. I chose to attend “Student Voice.” I enjoyed listening to students talk about their concerns. I wish we had more time though! We had about fifteen minutes for discussion and it was definitely not enough time. Students spoke about their concerns with communicating with adults in the schools like teachers, counselors, etc. They don’t feel like their concerns are taken seriously. I was impressed by those students who spoke up. I know it took nerve.
My Take Aways and Thoughts
I am impressed at all the work that has been done to help students in Duval County Public Schools succeed. There are so many programs and organizations that are guiding students in the right direction. However, there is still work to be done. People have a tendency to blame the school system for so many things. All I have to say is, What are you doing to move education forward? Have you visited a school?
1. Have you visited a school? After this event I visited a local high school through the Discover Duval program and was impressed with all that I saw. The tours are FREE!
2. Students need to be heard. Communication is key to the success of any relationship, business, or organization. My idea: Lessons in mindfulness, communication, and empathy need to be incorporated into classes.
3. Teacher morale is low. It needs to be improved. I would love to see a program like the Teaching for American History Grant in which I participated. Teachers participated in field experiences to various places in Jacksonville and surrounding areas where they always left motivated and inspired to get back into the classroom to prepare and implement engaging lessons for our students. This kind of opportunity could do wonders for teacher morale if offered to teachers of all subject areas.