If I Could Change One Thing

WXXI's annual Kids Who Write are Bright writing contest for students in grades K-12 is underway, with this year's topic being "If I Could Change One Thing." From now until April 10, the contest deadline, WXXI's education department will receive hundreds of entries ranging from picture entries from the very young to thought essays from high school students.

The one thing that all of these submissions will have in common is the heartfelt desire for change of some sort from the writer. In general, it certainly seems that change is in the air. Nationally we are immersed in a barrage of potential presidential candidates and locally we have multiple opportunities to get to know new Rochester City School District superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard. On many levels it seems that there is a good amount of hope floating around in the air with the change.

In this blog I don't have the space (or leeway) to write about national politics, not that I would want to anyway. So I will turn my attention and my pen towards RCSD and new Superintendent Brizard. My thoughts continually return to Rochester residents and RCSD teachers who have nothing positive to say about the school system. Realism might be one thing but pessimism is another.

First, a brief bit of background. I taught for 5 years in Columbus Public Schools in Ohio. Upon moving to Rochester, I was a bit surprised at the extreme negative public opinion of the city schools here. I intimately know and understand the day to day reality of working in a city school district and my mind always wants to ask nay-sayer teachers, "If you hate where you teach so much, why are you here?" Each day, teachers and school staff have the opportunity to improve the lives of the students that they have in their classroom. While academic change is a teacher's primary charge, it takes little extra effort to make school a positively life-changing experience for a student.

I am encouraged and uplifted by the possibilities that Superintendent Brizard brings with him to Rochester. If I could change one thing for Rochester City Schools, it would be to have Rochester residents support their school district. My question to you as a reader, teacher, student or Rochestarian is this: If you could do one thing to help RCSD succeed, what will you do? Let's all do something, however small, to help make our schools, and in turn our community, a better place.

For more information on WXXI's coverage of Superintendent Brizard, visit the WXXI web page Brizard One.

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