In the last 12 months, I have been inundated with, challenged by, and learned from conversations regarding "college readiness." In all honesty, that label has never been used as much in all my years in education combined as it has in the last year. That's both a good and disconcerting reality.
The dialogue can become suffocating when the focus is simply on numbers and what we baptize as "core content." BUT, happily, all of my conversations at Niles North are with colleagues who embrace and understand the nuances of that label. They reach for, and many times find, creative and loving ways to nurture our students on their high school journey so that they are ready for college in ways far surpassing simply being prepared for the rigors of post-secondary coursework.
The people I've been privileged to work with focus on the entire spectrum when it comes to helping prepare our students. We aren't perfect. But I've never seen a faculty so dedicated to reaching every child's needs and helping them grow and be ready for life outside our building. The commitment demonstrated by the educators here reflects an ability to think about the following...all at once...and how to get the kids to recognize where they are, where they can be, and how to get there. Areas they focus on include:
- Knowledge base
- Academic skills
- Emotional intelligence and flexibility
- Time Management
- Reflection and Growth
- Cultural competence
But this week, as we've started school, I've had a conversation about each of these at some point. And it's made me think about my daughters and how they had/have varying degrees of "college readiness" in those categories. But in any sense of the definition, they were/are both quite ready. I had/have no hesitation that heading off to school was a constructive and appropriate next step for them. And I thank my family, friends and their teachers for helping to raise them and get them there.
But here's the thing. We focus so much on the kids, which makes sense, of course, because that's our job. But recently, I've been thinking about our Niles North parents. I'm curious. Do we have anyone on staff for parents to speak with if they aren't ready for their kid to go to college? And if they're not (I'm not), can we keep our child in high school a little bit longer? Just a little bit?
Please? Even if it's just for another week...