As our kids return to school, I want to take a moment to personally honor one of Gwinnett’s great public school teachers. When my children were in elementary school I worked 60-70 hours a week. I spent as much time with them as I could, but I relied on the caring and influence provided by their elementary teachers year after year. When it was time for my kids to enter middle school I had the same anxiety and concern that most parents have at that stage of their kids’ education. What kind of impact would middle school have on my children?
That was when I was introduced to Trissa Luftig, a sixth grade Science and Language Arts instructor. At open house she gave every parent the advice you see below and we took it to heart. Many of her principles are still in use in our house today. I was even able to adjust my schedule and priorities to spend more time at home. Ms. Luftig retired recently as one of the most decorated teachers in Gwinnett County. She left such a mark on my family that my son named her as his most influential teacher when applying for college.
I asked Ms. Luftig to share her advice with you and she was gracious enough to provide the letter below. For all of you teachers out there who feel overburdened, I hope you know that you have far-reaching impact on the students and families you touch. For all you families out there, take heart – we have great instructors guiding our children and they deserve our attention and support.
Advice for Parents
On July 27th 2012, ten thousand athletes paraded into London’s Olympic Stadium, each harboring a fierce determination and hope for bringing home the Gold. On August 6th, a hundred thousand students will enter Gwinnet County Public Schools with the same determination and hopes for their own lofty goals and dreams. The level of student anticipation and excitement on the first days of school rivals that of Olympic athletes awaiting the starting buzzer. There will be new teachers to meet, rigorous academics to master, challenging schedules to memorize, thought provoking books to read, exciting friendships to establish, and lifelong skills to obtain. Now, those are feats worthy of Olympians.
In order to be successful, Olympic athletes establish long and short term goals, persevere through rigorous training sessions, follow demanding regimens, and recognize that success is the culmination of months and years of hard work. A successful school year requires just as much dedication and preparation. But ask any Olympian, and he will admit that the involvement of parents and guardians is paramount in achieving success. It is the enthusiasm, support, and encouragement of parents that inspire children to do their best, whether performing in a stadium or a classroom. Here are a few academic “training” tips parents can use to ensure that their children get off to a running start this school year.
Re-establish a bedtime routine. A good night’s sleep is essential. Remind your child that it is normal to be a little nervous at the beginning of the school year. Other students will be sharing those feelings. Attend an Open House to alleviate some of the “getting lost” jitters. Keep a positive attitude, remembering any change of routine can be stressful for the entire family.
Designate a quiet and comfortable area for homework. Create a central family calendar to keep track of important school deadlines, meetings, events, etc. Engage in casual dinner time conversations about school activities- academic as well as social- and be prepared to listen. Stay in touch with your child’s teachers as your relationship with them is essential. Provide an email address for short, but timely communications. Sign up for the Go2 Parent Portal to keep track of your child’s progress, and don’t hesitate to share your own concerns. Remember, a committed and active parent teacher relationship is essential for all children to reach their potential.
Now, get ready for your family’s turn on the podium!