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Don’t underestimate today’s young people

Don’t underestimate today’s young people Don’t underestimate today’s young people

What are your expectations for today’s youth? It seems to me that we are always underestimating the ability of our youngest citizens. I often wonder what could happen if we didn’t have such low expectations of “kids”. How often do you hear the phrase “kids these days”? To me it implies that kids were better long ago. Is that true? I’m not so sure. What I am sure of is that kids want to please people around them. If we set our expectations high, kids will rise to the challenge. Whether it is as simple as wearing a mask while attending school for 7 plus hours a day or passing the latest academic standard, I believe if we ask them to and provide the right support, they can accomplish anything and then some.

Having been an educator now for 25 years, I have seen many examples of kids far surpassing any expectation I could set. I have countless examples of kids meeting both academic and behavioral goals that some may have found to be crazy-hard. In all of my examples there are three things that are always present: a supportive adult community, the resources necessary to complete the task, and the chance to fail and try again. After all, wouldn’t we all benefit from a second chance?

When we started this crazy COVID year at Medford Elementary, I was told that there was no way I was going to get a 5 year old to wear a mask all day. Well our “kids” proved they could. I was told we were going to have students that would not remember a thing because they hadn’t been in school since last March. Well, kids are working their tails off. Although we have seen drops in our academic performance, with the right support and resources they are working to get back on track.

Finally, I was told remote learning was our future. Well, students and parents are finding out that sitting at home all day for most is not the best way to learn and have decided to return to school. The data shows 96% of our kids prefer to be in person.

Some call it luck. Some call it hard work. I call it “kids” being “kids.” They love to learn and be challenged. Our children are resilient and motivated by the expectations we set for them. We should and can expect them to be amazing!

— Dan Miller, Medford Area Elementary Principal

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