In Preparation for Student’s Future, Parents are Primary Force

Prior to coming to DISES, I taught at the vocational school in Ellsworth. One of the goals of that school was preparing high school students for the work force, military service or a post secondary education, including vocational training or college. After many years in education and the private sector, my thinking has evolved into the belief that we must start earlier than the high school level in prepping children for their post secondary lives. While I do not think we should start sorting students into specific careers, we can do many things to prepare them for a career or further education. 

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Students at the middle level should have knowledge of the wide variety of options for their future, both work and education. Students should already be practicing a good work ethic, including coming to school on time, completing tasks in a timely manner, or how to collaborate and cooperate. They should learn that their current actions can follow them for the rest of their lives. Currently being done at the middle level, they should also learn about healthy and safe choices in social media, personal health, and social settings. Parents are the greatest influence in their child’s life and should talk to their children about all of these issues, the sooner the better. Schools can be partners in this process, but parents are the primary force.

– Michael Benjamin, Parent and DISES Principal

Digital Drama To Watch Out For This School Year

…”there are many beneficial technologies that kids use responsibly, and not all new technologies can or will be misused. Kids often are the first to discover the latest and greatest thing, whether it’s a download from the app store or a cool online trend — but, just as they must sit through algebra and world history, they need to learn how to use these tools safely and responsibly.”

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This article from Common Sense Media discusses the “digital drama” to watch out for this school year.

Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?’

‘…as my kids get older, I know I am going to have to work harder and harder to stay engaged with them — but I know it’s going to be worth the work.'”

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Full swing into the new school year, opening up communication with your kids can sometimes be your best resource.

This article from Huffington Post Parents offers 25 ways to ask your kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ without asking them ‘So How Was School Today?’

Spring Forward.

I arrived at the high school for what I was assuming to be a somewhat ordinary day. After walking into the building, it was clear I was mistaken. There was much more activity in the hallway than normal and a large number of new faces as well. I quickly learned that this years 8th graders, the incoming freshman for next school year, were visiting the high school for the day.

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As it turned out, the day was quite orchestrated, with the 8th graders being taken on tours, sitting in on classes being offered next year, and meeting teachers and current high school students who will soon be their new classmates. Meeting a few of the incoming high schoolers, they were wide-eyed and quiet; listening and taking it all in. In a large way, it was like the first day of school a bit early.

With the energy in the building being upbeat and positive, next years incoming freshman were able to bring their own fresh energy as well. Summer is just upon us, but after this week’s school day of looking forward, it seems that the future faces of the high school are eager to play their part.

The Road Ahead

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I couldn’t be more proud of my son. It’s seems surprisingly fast, but next year he will be entering high school and beginning a new chapter in his life. One of my three children, he was always a good student in elementary school. Actually, a great student. According to his grades, he has been doing everything he needed to succeed. It’s not uncommon for him to make the honor roll, and as a parent this has helped quiet any fears I had about his eventual transition to high school.

It seems that a child who makes the honor roll is prepared academically for high school and meeting the needed requirements, but I soon found that the fine print of standardized tests say otherwise. The requirements for a smooth transition from elementary school to high school came as a surprise to me and has me concerned for my children’s future. As a parent, there is always more I can be doing for my children. Yet, I feel the importance of these tests was not communicated effectively between multiple parties, in turn creating avoidable confusion.

My son is thinking about his education, his future, his dreams, and his goals. I don’t want to imagine that the beginning of his high school experience, and the beginning of his transition to becoming an adult, starts with him “not being prepared”. Looking ahead, I see the fine print of requirements growing. There seem to be more options and avenues for students to pursue in high school, but it seems complicated how these options meet the requirements for transition, and later, for graduation.

I’m ready and willing to work hard with my children to navigate their educational careers, but there is needed information that doesn’t seem to be common knowledge between administrators, teachers, parents, students, and the community as a whole. I’m willing to work hard because I know I am not the only parent with these hopes and fears for their child’s education. As an island parent, I’d like to see more effective communication, ensuring that needed information can better become common knowledge and reflect the common stake that we all hold in the education of our children.


A Deer Isle-Stonington Parent