Gary Shiffrin: Students Sincerely Want To Learn

By  //  December 29, 2014

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ABOVE VIDEO: Edward R. Murrow’s original introduction to “This I Believe” from the 1950s.

‘Education Is the Noblest Profession Known To Mankind’

In 2012, when I was principal at Merritt Island, I and our school, participated in a nationwide initiative entitled “This I Believe.”  

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In launching This I Believe in 1951, host Edward R. Murrow explained the need for such a radio program at that time in American history, and said his own beliefs were “in a state of flux.” CLICK HERE OR ON THE ABOVE IMAGE TO LISTEN

This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives.  The project was based on the popular 1950’s radio series hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

The Merritt island students and staff explored our core values and composed personal essays about these beliefs.  The students learned about themselves, their peers, and even their teachers, and grew to realize that their values and voices have value.

At the same time, I had the joy of putting my thoughts to paper and in the spirit of the New Year I have included my “This I Believe”:

As a professional educator for the past four decades, I have been witness to the many facets of how our educational system has developed in the modern era. Regardless of what decade it is or what new trend has been observed and new programs developed, there are a number of “I Believes” that have been constant and everlasting.

First of all, I Believe that students from all generations sincerely want to learn.  As a wide eyed student just entering kindergarten to a middle school student going through the transition to a graduating senior entering the next level, students have always desired to do better, be successful and please those people who make an impact on their lives.

Now is this true for all students?  Obviously, not as we all know that not all students march to the beat of the same drum but I Believe within each the desire is still there.

I Believe that all parents want the very best for their sons and daughters.

Unfortunately, our society has changed considerably over the ages and the numbers of  young people who grow up with challenges of divided families and lack of parental supervision and care has diminished.  But I still Believe that inherently all parents do want the best for their sons and daughters who enter our schools and classrooms.

Unfortunately, our society has changed considerably over the ages and the numbers of  young people who grow up with challenges of divided families and lack of parental supervision and care has diminished.  But I still Believe that inherently all parents do want the best for their sons and daughters who enter our schools and classrooms.

We realize that the students we serve are the most important thing in the lives of our parents regardless of the family status.  It is our job to protect and educate these bright minds so that when they leave our domain we have provided them with the tools to be productive citizens of the world.

I Believe that the educators of today are truly gifted individuals who for very little compensation take what is given to them to prepare them with knowledge and good ole practical thinking so they can be successful at the next level.

I also Believe that for each generation there are many challenges that confront our teachers but in their passion for what they do they continue to work as hard as ever and take great joy when the “ah ha moment” strikes and another student comes to realize they have learned yet another concept that will enhance their potential for success.  I think one of the greatest bumper stickers I have seen on any car  is the one that says “if you can read this, thank a teacher!”

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At times the teaching profession is very thankless, but satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have reached a child far outweighs anything that may seem negative.  Unlike the saying that says “those who can’t, become teachers,” I believe the vast majority of those who go into the profession do so because they Believe they have something to offer that will make a difference to many young people who in turn will make a difference in our world.

I Believe education is the noblest profession known to mankind.

I Believe educators are not given enough credit for the work they do and the impact they have.  I Believe that when we are giving athletes millions to throw, run, or catch, and educators far less for what they do then our priorities are all skewed and something needs to be done about this in justice.

The Brevard Public School's Sprint Super Hero for December 2014 is Barbi Miller, a teacher of gifted students at Palm Bay Elementary in Palm Bay. (BPS image)

The Brevard Public School’s Sprint Super Hero for December 2014 is Barbi Miller, a teacher of gifted students at Palm Bay Elementary in Palm Bay. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO (BPS image)

I Believe that if it were not quality teachers those athletes making millions would not have learned their skills and would not be able to do what they do.  For I Believe that coaches are teachers as well and they too are not given the credit for all they do enhancing the lives of young people.

In conclusion, This I Believe that public education continues to provide quality instruction in preparing students for the next level whether it is middle school, high school, college, serving in the armed forces, or entering the business world.

As bad as things might seem when it comes to people criticizing those who teach and educate our young people there continues to be hope and faith in the future of our educational system and all the good that comes from it.

THIS I BELIEVE!

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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