Letter: Ready, fire, aim
Gloucester County’s school division has begun a process to replace soon to be retired superintendent Ben Kiser. On the school website, a survey that was due on March 18 asked parents and others in the community to check off “criteria” that will somehow aid a school board in making their choice of replacement candidates. The broad categories to score are leadership/management style; personal characteristics; interpersonal relations; financial acumen; and a catch-all—“areas of expertise”—that allows respondents to voice any special characteristics they might value in the person who will oversee a $50+ million enterprise. I’m guessing that no business in Gloucester or Mathews counties has a balance sheet that approaches $50 million.
At one of the links on the same school website is a peek at some of the “education” resources the school deems worthwhile. It’s called ReadWriteThink.org and touts itself as a classroom resource. One of the resources is some activities for teachers to use pertaining to St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. Suggested classroom activities include reading an Irish folk tale and creating a “story cube” to graphically illustrate it. And there’s a recipe for making soda bread with the suggestion that the class listen to Irish folk music. And of course there’s the obligatory National Geographic story on St. Patrick’s Day traditions that are not actually Irish.
Legend and justification for the beatification of Patrick have to do with his tenacious work in spreading Christianity to Ireland around 400 A.D. He used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and some attest that he drove the snakes from the island. While there are no snakes in Ireland some dispute whether that was Patrick’s doing. In another sense and with a fuller understanding of Judeo-Christian theology, many will recall the serpent in Genesis as the symbol of evil in the garden, and give Patrick his due for making a ministry of advancing the good in his adopted land.
All of which will very likely be lost to the school children of Gloucester in what is likely to be a sea of green craft paper on the classroom bulletin boards, and videos of Riverdance on those overpriced classroom technology systems. All of which makes me see the suggestions of ReadWriteThink and recall “ready, fire, aim.”
There are two “essay” questions on the survey mentioned above, one of which asks for a specific talent or skill the new superintendent should have. My preferences are that the individual have an abiding love for truth and the good; that they be honest, act with grace and be charitable of others. And that their entire life up to this time has not been spent at educating other’s children. That they recognize that the parent is the primary teacher of the family’s children. And that they have some references to life outside of the pedagogical dead end of what has come to be known as the public school. That they’ve worked for someone besides the government or one of its appendages.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!