When I began my teaching career at Rhinelander High School 31 years ago, I started the school year by making resolutions the same way many of us do in early January. When you work in public education, you don’t just resolve to exercise more often or cut down on your caffeine, you resolve to monitor the cleanliness of your students’ desks (before it is too late), to not let your lesson plans cut into recess and lunch periods, to assign less (or more) homework, or to finish your master’s degree.
I made these resolutions at the start of every school year, long after I had gone from a first-year English teacher in Rhinelander to a veteran library media specialist in Wisconsin Rapids. Most educators I know make new school year resolutions, because every school year starts with a clean slate and a sense of unlimited possibility.
Great schools benefit everyone, and throughout Wisconsin it is not just educators but whole communities taking pride in the public schools they have created and sustained. This sense of ownership and investment has paid big dividends, as Wisconsin’s schools are the envy of the nation. We have one of the highest high school graduation rates. On the ACT college entrance exam, our high school seniors have ranked in the nation’s top three for 19 years in a row.