In our elementary school classes, children often write down what their “hopes and dreams” are for learning at the beginning of the school year. Dreams are not just about the distant future, but also about the here and now. While walking with a principal in the fall, this “dream” for learning posted by a fourth grader caught our attention:
I want to be a computer creator when I grow up. I want to learn how to draw, and use technology, and do long division really well.
As educators, we want our young people to graduate ready for any opportunity they choose to pursue. We also want our graduates to enter adult citizenship with a commitment to contributing to their communities.
While visiting Brownsville Elementary, I ran into a Western Albemarle junior who shared his dreams for his future with me. Already a committed community volunteer, he has assisted teachers at Brownsville weekly since sixth grade. He said to me, “I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I remember.” This young man can describe choices of excellent teaching programs in Virginia’s colleges and the path he intends to take to become a teacher.
Every dollar of our budget should help each child get closer to making his or her learning dreams become reality whether it is to become a “computer creator” or a teacher.
Our young people’s stories remind us to keep their faces in front of the numbers in the division’s budget. Educators own the key responsibility of public education in America: to keep doors open as wide as possible for learners to pursue and realize their dreams. By making learning accessible, we help each young person develop the knowledge and skills needed to optimize a range of opportunities available after graduation.