The 2017-18 school year will begin in just a month. It’s hard to believe that the students in Mecklenburg County Public Schools (MCPS) have been out since before Memorial Day in May. Many comment on how early school starts, and it is true, but keep in mind that students still attend only 180 days a year so the time off is the same. We begin early because it is important for the fall semester to be as long as the spring, and that it be done by Christmas break so exams won’t come after a holiday.
As we prepare for the new school year to begin there are a few thoughts to keep in mind. MCPS is committed to serve each of our students with educational opportunities that will prepare them for success with their future. Success is no longer defined only by passing an SOL test. Today we know that a student must have a thorough understanding of what career opportunities are available, must be prepared with a strong academic foundation, must have an understanding of the importance of achieving specific skill credentials, and must have opportunities to appropriately engage in job and community activities. There are millions of high-paying jobs available for students who are well prepared in these four areas.
When I talk to business representatives about the preparation of students they all express a common concern that far too many of our youth do not demonstrate the “soft skills” necessary for success. Soft skills are defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” From the employer’s perspective this includes:
· * An understanding that the employee represents the business and not just their own self interest
· * Respect for management
· * An ability to work well with fellow employees
· * An ability to engage the public well
· * Arriving to work on time every day unless there is a medical situation or family emergency
· * Arriving to work dressed appropriately for the job to be done
· * An understanding of appropriate behavior and language for the work environment
· * An understanding of appropriate use of personal technology and social media on the job
In order to be prepared for these expectations in their future careers, the students must have opportunities to learn and demonstrate these responsibilities in school. Our School Board has adopted a discipline policy that outlines expectations of cooperation, discipline, respect, appropriate dress, and behavior in school. Teachers and administration will reinforce these policies because they directly reflect the expectations for future career success. Grades are not given for discipline, dress, tardiness, or absenteeism but data is kept for future employers to review and consider for job shadowing or real employment opportunity. Awards can be earned for positive and respectful behavior. There will be fair and appropriate consequences for lack of attention to the expectations outlined in the discipline code.
Copies of this year’s discipline policy are now available online at http://mcpsweb.org/wp-content/uploads/MCPS_Code_of_Conduct_2016_2017.pdf. A copy of the dress code only, that can be printed for shopping purposes, is available at http://mcpsweb.org/wp-content/uploads/MCPS_DressCode_20172018.pdf. Hard copies will be distributed and reviewed when students return to school. We want to make parents aware now as they shop for new clothes and begin talking with their children about expectations in the school year. Please review this information on expectations for student conduct and attendance. Together we can provide an excellent learning opportunity for every student in our school.
Finally, there will be a special meeting on Tuesday, July 25th for high school parents and students who have selected a career pathway that requires university degree(s) for employment. Representatives from College Board, the SVCC dual enrollment program, and local universities will present important information about preparing for success in college. The meeting will be held at Park View High School beginning at 7:00 PM in the gym. We can only get the representatives to one meeting. Next year Bluestone High School will host the program.
Please note that this meeting is planned for all college-bound high school students and their parents. Homeschool students are invited as we will discuss college preparatory testing programs and opportunities that are available through our public school system.