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What I did learn at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way | Letter
It’s 2 a.m. here in Boston and I can’t sleep. I just read the letter, “What I didn’t learn at Todd Beamer High School,” and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I am currently a student at Boston College and I am a proud graduate of Todd Beamer. Granted, I only attended Beamer for 11th and 12th grade, but my Federal Way Public Schools academic career began in sixth grade.
I started at Sequoyah Middle School, continued to Federal Way Public Academy and finished at Beamer. While I won’t limit myself by saying I was the “product” of the school district, I was positively shaped by this school system.
Yes, the district has its flaws; I’d be surprised if any teacher, student, administrator, or faculty member denied that. As an advocate for education reform, I believe that the standards could be raised. I believe in the bright potential of every student, and I believe that students equipped with the right resources can be successful.
As students, we are the very backbone of the school system, thus making us the caretakers of our own education. When I look at my academic career, it is ultimately the culmination of a strong network of relationships. It’s the relationships with my peers, family, mentors, teachers, principals and counselors who got me to where I am today and will take me to where I want to go. Naturally, many of these relationships are with people directly involved in the school system.
The problems in public education are rampant and out-of-control. Lack of resources, low standards, tough upward mobility, and poor curriculum are just a few of the many issues we face. With a system as convoluted as a school system, it gets difficult to change even the smallest thing.
This does not mean that I condone this system, but I would not place the blame on our school district’s faculty. Our current education system is a multi-faceted issue that extends beyond the doors of Beamer, beyond the boundaries of the school district and even beyond the state of Washington.
My education was not just filled with facts and numbers, it was supplemented by relationships, ideas and experiences. In most cases, yes, the classroom does not provide all the resources that a student would need to succeed.
This is when the numbers do matter - the budget. While I am confident that the budget is not 100 percent perfect, I trust that Federal Way is doing its best to provide as many opportunities to the most students as possible.
For example, I see this in the form of the free advanced placement and SAT exams. Had I not been a part of school district, the $1,200-plus I would have spent on exams alone would have made me reconsider my high school course load. Fortunately, this was not the case.
Ultimately, an individual’s education does not come down to numbers on a test. It is about learning to navigate through the responsibilities and difficulties that the home, school and workplace present. Young and old, we are all students, and we all need to grow in our ability to seek and create our own opportunities. This idea was the most important lesson I learned from school.
I am truly grateful for all the exemplary educators out there, who sacrifice countless extra hours at home to make tests, grade papers and prepare a great curriculum. They make learning so much easier. The biggest learning curve, though, is learning from the worst. My highest regards go to those who adapt to their circumstances of both fortune and misfortune, finding resources to maximize their potential.
Ideally, the public school system should cater to each unique student’s learning need, and we are hard-pressed to find a solution. High school is when many of the problems are brought to light, however, it is only four short years, making it difficult to keep people caring and actively fight for change. We should appreciate and encourage the teachers and administrators because they are the ones who stay even after we’ve left.
Thank you Fonda Mongrain, Kurt Lauer, Randy Kaczor, Jerry Glaser, Glenna Roderick, Sarah Weerth, Dave Abrahamson, Tara Simmons, Jane Ruston, and the many more administrators and teachers who consistently go the extra mile for their students. I hope we will translate our passion and conversations into action, taking responsibility for the education of our community’s youth for a better future.
Joon Yoo, Federal Way