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I am honored by the opportunity to address the community each month in this column. It is a special honor this year to share my thoughts with you on Christmas Day. The holiday means so much to our youngest and brings families together. For many in our community, it is a holiday of the highest spiritual importance.

We often are afraid to tackle the religious aspect of Christmas, but I believe we should celebrate what Christmas means to Christians, as well as honor other faiths and their traditions. Our community continues to diversify, and we should honor the spiritual traditions woven together to create the fabric of our community.

All religious traditions have a common thread, a simple directive that guides followers to treat others as they wish to be treated. For me, that means the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have others do to you." This simple directive sets a positive course of action for us to take to really make everyone we connect with know they matter. Bentonville Schools started this year with that exact approach and had nationally-recognized speaker Angela Maiers share strategies on how we can make each school, each classroom and each person feel like they matter. In the spirit of what matters, I've developed my Christmas wish list to share with you on this special day.

I hope we continue to find ways to share the talents of Bentonville Students with the community. Obviously, community members can see our students perform at the Arend Arts Center and in our athletic facilities, but my wish is for our community to see what our students and teachers are doing in classrooms in every district school. I wish you all would consider getting involved in our schools. You will be impressed by the level of learning by students who know their efforts matter.

I hope we move forward on Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson's proposal to institute computer programming into all high schools in Arkansas. I wish he would consider taking this initiative further. We need this type of course to not just be given as an elective credit but actually be considered as a language credit. Let me wish one more thing: High school is a good target but we should be even more aggressive as a state and seek computer programming to begin at the elementary level. Believe me, they can do it, and we know early literacy matters.

I hope we as a community never forget how much schools mean to our future and our economic development. The investment this community has made in passing millage increases in 2010 and 2013 impacts so many students. New buildings and revitalized campuses are drawing even more people to the region. Your investment created learning environments where our teachers can lead project-based classrooms with appropriate technology support. Ultimately, your continued investment into public education secures our future. I love the vision of the future I see as I watch daily how our students are learning to lead, collaborate and problem solve. We will be in good hands, and we have this entire community to thank for supporting what matters.

Finally, I hope you will remember -- no matter what age you are -- you all know someone of school age. When was the last time you talked to that young person and really asked them about their dreams and ambitions, asked them what brings them joy and fulfillment, and asked them what concerns them about their future. Ask them what matters, then listen! Listen some more, and then connect with them. Honor their passions and concerns and help connect them with advice and support that is so abundant in this wonderful community. Their passions, ambitions and opinions matter.

I began this wish list with trying to weave the Golden Rule into this column. I want you all to know our students are already well on their way to living out the Golden Rule. Students are developing projects that have outcomes of supporting those most in need not only in our own local community, but also throughout the world. Many of these projects have been highlighted in this very paper. My one last hope is that we see how our children are acting and follow suit. Our kids matter. And I hope we're wise enough to follow their lead.

I would like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. I am blessed to be your superintendent.

Commentary on 12/25/2014

Print Headline: A Christmas Wish List For Schools, Community

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