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What I wish everyone would learn at Todd Beamer High School | Letter
I deeply appreciate the risks that Federal Way Public Schools has been taking over the years.
The many thoughtful attempts to employ innovative strategies in the learning environment shows me that the district wants to find the best ways to teach its students, but the unfortunate results of the implemented programs seem to outweigh the honorable intentions in the eyes of many individuals of the Federal Way community.
Yes, I know that Todd Beamer High School and the school district are quite far from perfect. There are definitely things that need to be changed, but while people with the urge to make those changes are simply complaining about them, it is evident that too few people are taking the necessary actions.
Complaining about what a person did not learn in high school when he or she has been away from the school for the past two years, unwilling to see the progress that the school has made with the great dedication of a revived student body and faculty, is unfair and disrespectful. There are, indeed, alternatives to a full-time education at Todd Beamer.
Both of my sisters enrolled in the Running Start program at Highline Community College; my oldest sister has graduated and is currently attending Washington State University, while my twin sister will graduate from Highline within the year. Enrollment at the Puget Sound Skills Center is also an option for students who would like to take different avenues of education. I have a respectable understanding of what these programs offer and I acknowledge the outstanding benefits of each, but the time spent away from Todd Beamer may skew the perception of what it really is.
Upon reading “What I didn’t learn at Todd Beamer High School,” I was disappointed in the approach taken as what I assume was an attempt to create change, but I believe, while it only serves as a tool to inform others, it lacks essential factors of making a real impact unless action is taken.
Being a “grammar enthusiast,” I also took pride in pointing out the few errors in the submission. It displeases me that generalizations are made about our district when the perspective is amplified from a short sample of experiences at Todd Beamer. Let me tell you, every single teacher in this district has a passion for teaching. Every administrator is dedicated to the safety and well-being of our schools.
The school board, collectively, strives to further the education of our community with the best intentions. Regardless of their efficiency or the corresponding test results, they are here because they love students and want to enlighten young minds. The way we learn may not be entirely satisfactory, but what we have the ability to learn is endless. The claim that money and statistics are the only things that make our educators work each day is grossly miscalculated.
I understand that there have been, currently are, and always will be mistakes in an education system. I want all to understand that writing about how awful it may be will do nothing in comparison to its alternatives. Change of an institution is most effective, not through hatred of its standing, but through the support of its potential.
Instead of attempting to tarnish the reputation of the school board and demeaning the hard work of dedicated students, one should encourage constant improvement. Rather than making wild generalizations about teachers who may have had undesirable impacts on one’s high school experiences, one should promote a healthy discussion of change.
An accusatory approach merely sets the precedent for a culture of negativity; is that how we want our students to think? This is Federal Way. We educate, encourage and innovate. Let us not impulsively strike down the efforts of our neighbors without evaluating the alternatives.
Todd Beamer and the school district have blessed me with unbelievable opportunities. School is not about the tests or grades; it is about growth as a learner and a person. Learning is not the act of being lectured by the head of a classroom or staring at the pages of a book, but rather the mutual efforts of teachers and students to become more knowledgable members of this world.
So when a teacher misinforms another about the direction in which a certain river flows or the amount of islands in a certain fjord, do not wait three years to complain about it. A leader understands that there is no such thing as perfect timing, yet has the courage to address a problem. Each student is responsible for his or her own education, and it is time that we start showing we appreciate the opportunities with which we are blessed.
I wish everyone would learn that since its establishment, the district’s leadership has strived to create a more involved, family-based culture in the halls of Todd Beamer and beyond. We welcome everyone who shares the values of education, togetherness, involvement and support to the Titan family. Everyone deserves an education and has a right to learn. Regardless of one’s current class, social standing, or choice of educational institution, he or she is a Titan, even if he or she has only taken one course in a Todd Beamer classroom.
I wish everyone would learn that when there is a problem, the solution is not to sit and wait for someone else to address it. Silence is acceptance. The absence of action is apathy. The worst problem in our world is the tendency to be careless. Taking advantage of one’s own rights, resources, and sense of responsibility will set the precedent for the activism we all want.
I wish everyone would know that everyone has the potential to create great change, and in turn, be great.
I am prideful about three things: Being a man of God, a loyal member of the 12th Man and being a Todd Beamer Titan. I will not sit idly by and let my beloved school district be attacked with words that are bolstered by a vacant motivation.
If anyone has a problem with this district, do something about it. I encourage all to speak their minds and become educated to solve problems. We have student leaders growing from every corner of this district: the four major high schools, Federal Way Public Academy, each middle and elementary school all breed successful people. There is no limit to the amount of leaders our area can have, and our family will always have room for more.
To be a happy and effective person, one must have thick skin and an understanding heart. One must not let the words, actions, or claims by others bring him down, but be an empathetic person that can work with that individual to find common ground. He or she must be open to compromise and sacrifice but always stand up for what he or she believes.
While I do agree that there are requirements of students that are inadequate attempts for a more sincere goal, there are more efficient, professional ways to address them. The diploma we accept at our respective graduation ceremonies should be emblematic of our scholastic journey, so let’s not depend on a senior project that takes a couple hours to complete to represent “how great of a time I had at Todd Beamer, how much I truly learned and achieved, or the lifelong friendships I have made over 18 years.” Do not be discouraged to speak your mind, but speak freely in means that may represent our community in a proactive, responsible way.
So, I encourage you all, if you want something to change, take action instead of stirring up commotion. Talk to a person who knows what to do. Talk to a student with a passion for constant improvement, an administrator who is in the position to make decisions, or the school board meetings where voices can be heard.
Rather than focusing on a problem, work to find solutions. Please understand that change takes time, and those who are patient will prosper. I may only be ASB President until June 14, but I am a Titan forever and I will always encourage the success of my school district.
And please, next time public criticism of our hard-working teachers and faculty is released, do not do it during Teacher Appreciation Week.
Clayton Regehr, Federal Way