This summer, I discovered The Avett Brothers, an American band that comes together to "present songs about experiences that they as humans have known to humans who know what they mean." This coming fall, across the country from San Francisco to Jackson, Mississippi to Burlington, Vermont, they will play sold out shows.
Throughout the band's history they have intentionally pointed out that in addition to performing on a regular basis, they also engage in typical human behaviors such as taking their kids to soccer practice, walking around the mall, going for a run, talking before thinking, and washing the dishes. To me, they sound like regular and persevering folk growing their talent, personalizing their passion, and contributing to society the best way they know how.
You may recall my December 2016 message to all of you entitled Running on Empty. Here is an excerpt:
"I submit that we are all more alike than we typically recognize. Whatever our life's context and unique experiences, we cannot separate ourselves from one another; no matter how many false barriers we create."
The Avett Brothers sing a song entitled Ain't No Man. The hook of the song's lyrics reads:
There ain't no man can save me
There ain't no man can enslave me
Ain't no man or men that can change the shape my soul is in
There ain't nobody here who can cause me pain or raise my fear
Cause I got only love to share
If you're looking for truth I'm proof you'll find it there
The education one earns from the Ellington Public Schools (EPS) isn't simply about reading, writing, and mathematics. It is about something more. It is about allowing students to grow their talent, to personalize their passion, and to contribute to society the best way they know how. And most importantly, it is about individuals coming to the realization that "there ain't no man" who determines the experience, shapes the journey, and controls the outcome.
It is the Ellington educated person who learns to manifest his or her own chosen path.
EPS has four areas of focus for the second consecutive school year:
These areas of focus signify the school district's offering for the individual learner to exceed their personal expectations while co-creating with the collective community.
In Celebration of Educators
On June 16th, at the 6th Annual Convocation, the EPS administration honored its educators for the 2016-2017 school year. This edition of Ellington Shines captures many of the contributions by teachers that reflect the school district's four areas of focus.
As administrators honored teachers, Mark Mahler, EHS English teacher and Ellington Education Association Union President, provided these heartfelt remarks of his kinship with EPS educators as they relate to his journey as a veteran of our armed services.
With the school district's four areas of focus as our guide, EPS has been busy interviewing for the 2017-2018 school year. With an average of 23 teachers hired in each of the past five school years, this year EPS welcomed 24 new teachers to Ellington. Fourteen of those educators are experienced teachers, possessing anywhere from four to twenty years of experience. While some of our new teachers will commute from as far away as the CT shoreline and Fairfield County, two of our new hires reside in Ellington. This adds to an already impressive number, 48 teachers in total, who make their home in Ellington. In fact, a total of 380 full and part-time EPS staff members are Ellington residents.
Furthermore, 22 internal transfers will serve in newly created or different roles within the organization. Here are the staffing particulars, which don't include the large number of paraprofessional hirings and reassignments:
The 2017-2018 school year will be a continuation of EPS educators inspiring Ellington children. Teachers will report to work on Monday, August 28th, with the first day of school for students on Wednesday, August 30th.
The Transparent School Initiative
EPS recognizes that our partnership with parents and citizens alike is the foundation by which we collectively support our Ellington children's journey.
For the past two years, each school has hosted a 30/30/30 Tour. The tour consists of a 30 minute school tour, a 30 minute visit to multiple classrooms, and a 30 minute conversation with students and staff. The visits were limited to Board of Education, Finance and Selectmen members as part of EPS' Transparent School Initiative. This school year, invitations will be extended to members of the Superintendent's Parent Advisory (SPA), Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) officers, and the newly formed Ellington Education Foundation (EEF).
In addition, with regular Ellington Board of Education meetings occurring once per month at 7:00 PM prior to each Board meeting and starting August 23rd, EPS will offer Superintendent's Citizen Office Hours from 6:00-6:30 PM. Open to Ellington citizens with no appointment required, individuals will be able to engage in dialogue with the Superintendent.
There is part of a stanza in Ain't No Man that rings true to EPS' approach as an organization.
You got to go somewhere, ain't that true?
Not a whole lotta time for me or you
Got a whole lotta reasons to be mad, let's not pick one
We all live busy lives. We all have limited time. We all face obstacles. There are so many reasons to justify a life of negativity where placing blame on others is the default. Yet, let's not pick one; let's not go there. We are the Ellington Family and "ain't no man" going to stop us from a life's journey filled with love.