Tempe Union High School District's mission statement, "Excellence in Teaching and Learning," guides teachers, administrators and support staff in educating nearly 14,000 teenagers across eight campuses. As educators we share a fundamental belief ... the belief that all children have an ability to learn. We recognize, however, that all children do not learn the same way and that there are as many different learning styles as there are students.
State and federal mandates determine our district priorities and the standards we must implement to produce meaningful results. Our focus, however, should not be on implementing the standards; our focus must be on helping students learn. I am pleased to say that student achievement data we are required to collect and report to governmental agencies validate our teaching strategies. The fact that a majority of our students continues with their education after they graduate confirms the district's scholastic environment encourages life-long learning.
For the students who excel scholastically and for the students who struggle to overcome a mental or physical handicap, we allocate a significant amount of our resources, both in money and time. Mid-range students are the ones who sometimes fall through the cracks. These students deserve the same attention and recognition as their peers and my job as superintendent is to keep us focused on providing the best possible learning environment for all students so the needs of every student are met.
As one of the top school districts in Arizona our focus must remain on improving our students' academic performance. Congratulating ourselves on how well our students perform when compared to students in other districts leads to complacency. Financier and statesman Bernard Baruch said that "old age is always 15 years older than I am." I believe our measure of success is similar to Baruch's statement of age. Success should be seen as something greater than what we have previously attained.
Steve Adolph is superintendent of the Tempe Union High School District.