By Danna Diaz, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
San Juan Island School District
This summer my family and friends visited San Juan Island. Their visit reminded me how important it is to nurture the genius and greatness in everyone. Every moment I spent with them, I learned something new, an acronym, a Spanish word, or how much smarter they are than me in areas that I am not an expert (and I can tell you there are many). Let me share with you one story. It was my grandson’s second visit. This time, I asked a few local friends if they would assist us with one of our local cultural activities, kayaking, with my grandson. At first, he was apprehensive because he did not have any experience. Our friend, Humberto, was his teacher and guided him on the waters, Humberto explained how to paddle and turn left and/or right. Carmen assured my daughter and son-in-law, that Ian will be fine. By the end of the lesson, my grandson’s competence and confidence increased. His teacher, Humberto, did a great job.
As a proud grandmother, I ensured he had a play date with Cole and Kate Curtis. Children are experts with local cultural activities, such as, boats, kayaking, etc. It is easy for them. Their high level of confidence and competence was evident the day we went to Lakedale Resort and rented a boat. At first, Val and I explained to the children we had the boat for an hour. Cole stated, “We will row for 20 minutes”; Ian, my grandson exclaimed, “Let’s just row for 10 minutes.” Why would my grandson only want to be on the boat for ten minutes? I realized it was because of his level of competence and confidence.
Will you believe that they were on the boat for over forty minutes and when they could not find a way back to the dock, Kate took over the boat as the captain and rowed them back without a hitch? However, Cole and Ian were not finished. Kate disembarked and the boys went back and rowed some more. I was impressed how my grandson’s competence and confidence increased when he was engaged with other children his age and learned how to row a boat. He finished the day excited, positive and was explaining to his parents how he can get on boats and kayaks by himself, without any assistance. Remarkable!!
Why do I share my story? Teachers, staff, students and parents are getting ready for the beginning of the school year. Community members are raising money for student scholarships. Parents are buying school supplies and clothes. Teachers are thinking about the new academic year ready to share their summer experiences with their students and thinking about the lessons they are going to teach.
What I know for sure is that everyday students will be engaged in the classroom, learning new skills from their parents, community members, teachers and their classmates. This summer experience reminded me how valuable the teaching profession is and how we are here on this planet to learn from one another, to nurture the genius and greatness in everyone.
If you see students, parents, staff, teachers and community members in the neighborhood grocery store, community event and/or park, acknowledge their genius and greatness. Every day we are learning something new and during the 2016-2017 academic year, we will be ready to embark in many new learning experiences. I know I am ready! I can’t stop the feeling of excitement for the new academic year!
I plan to hold the First Annual Superintendent’s Open House, Monday, August 29 at 5:30 pm at Friday Harbor Middle School. I will share with you the “State of Education” in our district.
There will also be a breakout session for parents and community members, Tuesday, August 30, from 10:15 am – 11:45 am, at Friday Harbor Middle School Commons. I hope to see you there.
I look forward to the next academic year. If you have any questions regarding our schools and/or district, don’t hesitate to contact me at 370-7905 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support.