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"Ah, to be an educator and to have the summers off!"

I have heard this phrase repeatedly for years. I wish I could find a way to change the phrase to, "Boy, have you heard how much teachers do during the summer?" For that to happen, I have to set the stage then prove my point.

Setting the stage is really simple: The educators who make up the Bentonville staff and, for that matter, all of our schools in Northwest Arkansas are a group of people that care deeply about their profession and, most importantly, have an unquenchable desire to impact the students they serve. Our staff has a very wide lens of the potential of each student. They realize these students are our next doctors, engineers, builders, cooks or even teachers. Teachers also realize they must be the spark to ignite creativity, collaboration and connectedness for their student so that each young person is prepared to be forward thinking and guiding life to an improved state. Think of that last statement. It's a big task and one we educators welcome.

So, now let me prove my point. If educators are to truly help shape the world by preparing our students to become forward thinkers, how does that happen? Some of you may know I am a huge Stephen Covey guy; one of my favorite of his habits is the need to "Sharpen the Saw." Bentonville staff has this down.

Take these stats into consideration. Bentonville has 1,200 certified staff members who have accumulated approximately 25,000 hours of professional development to date this summer with more than 40,000 more hours scheduled to be completed prior to students' first day. That means a total of more than 65,000 hours will be spent this summer by Bentonville teachers honing their skills and preparing for this next school year. Some of this training is done at universities and colleges while others are done through our cooperative. Some have attended conferences. These hours of investment to hone their craft are significant, but what really gets impressive is how they then use this training to modify their lesson plans. I can almost guarantee you the hours working on planning matches or even exceeds the hours of formal training.

School is right around the corner. I am sure many of you are still planning one last family getaway before the race of the school year begins. I hope you find that time, but I also hope you will give thought to the preparation your Bentonville teaching staff is putting into their summer. We are blessed to have such a dedicated staff that seeks to maximize opportunities for each of their students. One thing I can say with certainty: The summer has us prepared and ready for the return of our kids.

NAN Our Town on 07/30/2015

Print Headline: Summers off? Not for educators

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