Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Always Up to You

The big story in January around here was the snow job we got from Mother Nature. Big headlines about snowdrifts taller than ponies and suddenly none of us are fond of the color white, anymore. Suspect we're going to have a little more of the stuff rather than a little less before this winter ends. But somewhere among the falling snowflakes, speeding plows and scraping shovels was the great month January proved to be the Norwich Public Schools and the children it educates.

We tend to fret at budget formulation time about the relationship between "our" schools and Norwich Free Academy and, because NFA is a regional asset, we sometimes lose sight of its hometown/homegrown emphasis and origins. The Board of Trustees' decision earlier last month to hold the line on next school year's tuition costs was good news for communities whose children attend NFA, including Norwich, but even better news was the debut of the Norwich Free Academy Enrichment Academy.

The program allows Kelly Middle School and Teachers’ Memorial Middle School students (grades six through eight) an opportunity to attend classes at Norwich Free Academy.
Offerings include a range of subjects, to include Spanish, French and Greek, through instrumental and vocal music as well as modern dance, drawing, journalism and creative writing, through culinary arts like cooking and baking.

Rarely has the word enrichment been better used to describe not merely a preview of high school for our children but an opportunity each will now have to look farther down the path of their lives and begin to develop a sense of who they are and (more importantly, I think) who they can become in the world.

William Butler Yeats saw education as the lighting of a fire. We should strive to see our children become beacons who will light the way as the second decade of the twenty first century unfolds and the NFA Enrichment Academy is a marvelous beginning.

Speaking of beginnings and academies, a New London neighbor, the US Coast Guard Academy and the Norwich Public Schools have embarked on a Partnership in Education Program that will see an upgrade in the computer technology currently in our schools but more significantly will allow Norwich school children to work with and learn from the Coast Guard Academy cadets.

Providing our children and grandchildren with access to tools and opportunities to interact with the talent to more extensively model successful behavior will go a long way to enriching not only the lives of students and adult volunteers but also our own as we cease measuring education as something we buy by the pound but rather learn to celebrate life-long learning as a critical component of our community.
-bill kenny

No comments: