Gary Shiffrin: New School Year Chance For Fresh Start

By  //  August 21, 2014

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VETERAN EDUCATOR OFFERS PARENTS ADVICE

For 42 years I proudly wore the title of “educator.”

I started as a teacher at Melbourne High School where I gained an amazing understanding of what life was like in front of the classroom. The ability to share knowledge and experiences with those you teach is a power unlike any other profession.

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At Merritt Island High, Gary Shiffrin, shown above in his early days, racked up a full decade. He retired in 2013 after a long and outstanding career with the Brevard County Public Schools that spanned 42 years, and several schools. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

The time when you see the light go on and the student has that “ah ha” moment is what you work so hard to achieve.

Knowing that you are hopefully instilling a love of learning in each student you touch and you are preparing the future is pretty powerful.

After seven years in the classroom, I then decided I wanted to branch out and pursue another area of education. I became an administrator starting out as the Dean of Students at Stone Jr. High School.

My travels as Dean, Assistant Principal, and Principal took me to jobs at Cocoa Beach High School, Rockledge High School, Jefferson Jr. High School, and finally my last ten years were spent as the Principal of Merritt Island High School.

Although my greatest love was being a teacher. I found being an administrator was very challenging and quite exciting. No day was ever the same as the last and at times it seemed like you were juggling hundreds of balls in the air at the same time.

As an administrator and especially as a principal you were responsible for so much more and ultimately the success and failure of the school rested on your shoulders.

If you did your job right there was so much to be proud of and you took ownership in the accolades given to your students, staff, parents, and community.

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Being an educator was the very best career I could have chosen and in retirement I have many wonderful memories to reflect on.

With that said, I wanted to offer some thoughts related to the opening of yet another school year based on by many years of being in the schools.

NEW SCHOOL YEAR IS OPPORTUNITY FOR FRESH START

First of all, the beginning of a new school year is the opportunity of a fresh start for our students. Regardless of whether the student has been an honor student or a struggling student each one can make a commitment that during this new year they will strive to do their very best in all areas of student life.

That includes academics, discipline, extracurricular activities, athletics, and relationships with peers and their teachers.

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For those who have received less than stellar grades in previous years this is their opportunity to do a turnaround and improve their grade point average so when the time comes to decide on a college and/or business and/or the military those doors will be open to them based on their excellent record and willingness to do their very best.

Of course these habits of good studying and commitment must start at the early grades in elementary school for the practice to be positive and reinforced in the later years. As parents it is very important that you not only encourage but require your sons/daughters to have specific times after school to study and do homework.

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Gary Shiffrin after the conclusion of his last Commencement at Merritt Island High School in May 2013. During his long tenure at Brevard County schools, Shiffrin has impacted the lives of thousands of Brevardians and spent many, many days – and a lot of evenings – helping his students reach their potential. Shiffrin is a firm believer that, as a principal, the buck stopped at his desk. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

Working together also serves as a great role model for your children and they see how you have placed education as a high priority.

Watching TV and having iPad time does not have to be eliminated but there has to be a structured schedule that puts doing school work first and everything else second.

Parents you have such an important role to play in the education of your children. Your active involvement in what your children do in school plays such a significant role in their success it cannot be overstated.

STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM PARENTS WHO VOLUNTEER

Research shows those parents who volunteer at the school also greatly contribute in the overall positive experience of the children.

There are certainly high hopes and much anticipation for a great school year and as a lifetime educator I wish the students much success, the teachers great opportunities, the parents the time and effort it takes to support your children, the community leaders the initiative to get involved, and for all of us the hope that this will be the greatest school year ever!

We of course know how difficult this might be to accomplish with both parents working but there are certainly ways to get involved.

Just contact the school and they will be more than happy to discuss opportunities. I also have a message for our community businesses and leaders. You too play an important role in the success of our students and schools.

You have the means and resources to give back to those who prepared you to assume your roles in the community. Don’t wait for the schools to contact you.

Reach out and offer whatever you can to insure the schools in your community are doing the very best they can. Remember, one of the first things people look for when they are deciding where to move to is how good the schools are.

As business and community leaders you are so important in establishing this open channel of support so the schools can flourish and have what they need to be successful.

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As is the case each August of each year, the doors of our schools are about to welcome our students to the new school year.

There are certainly high hopes and much anticipation for a great school year and as a lifetime educator I wish the students much success, the teachers great opportunities, the parents the time and effort it takes to support your children, the community leaders the initiative to get involved, and for all of us the hope that this will be the greatest school year ever!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Shiffrin retired in 2013 after a long and outstanding career with the Brevard County Public Schools that spaned 42 years, and several schools.

Gary Shriffrin

Gary Shriffrin

He was the principal of Merritt Island High for 10 years, and before that Shiffrin spent 14 years, 10 of them as principal, at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Merritt Island. For six years, he was assistant principal at Cocoa Beach High School.

Shiffrin served at Stone Junior High School for a year just after he had left Melbourne High School, where he started his teaching duties as an educator and coach.

Also a coach and athletic director, Shiffrin served as the commissioner of the Cape Coast Conference for 23 years and was the Space Coast’s representative on the FHSAA assembly. He was inducted in the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame last April.

In addition to being a regular columnist, Shiffrin covers education and prep sports for Space Coast Daily.


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