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Posted February 5, 2016

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Black History Month Message Inspires Supt. Reedy

The key to overcoming inequity is developing relationships with students and their families, the Superintendent wrote to employees.

I was truly inspired by the words of Freeman A. Hrabowski, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore who gave the keynote speech at UNM's Black History Month Kick-Off Brunch last weekend. As I sat surrounded by members of our high schools' Black Student Unions, I found myself nodding fervently in agreement as President Hrabowski spoke about preparing our students for a changing world of work.

He spoke of a more competitive economy affected by increased globalization and major demographic shifts that impacts the way we prepare young people for careers. In order to compete and succeed in this changing world, President Hrabowski said our students will need:

  • A deep knowledge of the work they do, whether in fine arts, sales, manufacturing, science, engineering, health care, or whatever
  • A symbiotic relationship with ever-evolving technology that ranges from email to cybersecurity to robotics
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • And, perhaps most importantly, people skills that not only help them communicate and work together, but also be empathetic and considerate of those they work with, and for.

Hear, hear.

The workplace our students enter - whether it be in four months as new high school graduates or in 15 years as our kindergarteners earn college degrees - is worlds apart from the workplace most of us entered as young adults. Preparing for an unfamiliar future is challenging, and scary, too, though less so if we are thoughtful in our approach.

President Hrabowski said, and I agree, that we have to develop good readers, writers, communicators. We have to encourage students to ask questions, seek answers, ask for help. We have to help them find their passion, and compassion.

And when it comes to equality, this child leader of the Civil Rights movement who was spit on and jailed during protests as a pre-teen said it's less about skin color or language than access. Far too many of our students, our families, remain stuck in poverty. And as long as that cycle continues, the promise of a successful future is illusive for too many of our students.

The key to overcoming this inequity, he said - and I agree - is developing relationships with students and their families. Listen to them, hear them, mentor them in addition to educating them, and you'll open doors of opportunity in this changing world of work. I know many of you already are doing that. I applaud your efforts, and encourage you to continue. You make a difference, and I appreciate you.

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