The 2022-2023 school year in Montgomery County Public Schools has gotten off to a very successful start thanks to its teachers, support staff, principals, parents and Superintendent Monifa McKnight and her team.
Coming on the heels of a nearly three-year world-wide pandemic that closed schools and changed what we in Montgomery County consider a “normal” school year, our students experienced years of learning loss. This will take years to overcome and cannot be accomplished unless teachers, all education stakeholders and MCPS administration work together in unity to serve, teach and do what’s best for all of our students. The community should heed Dr. McKnight’s call for the community to come “All Together Now.” Doing so will require sacrifices on all of their parts.
As a former teacher, principal and member of the Board of Education, I know that our teachers and administrators want to do what is best for our students. Teachers are the heart of our school system, and like doctors and nurses who save lives, teachers are heroes in their own right, doing the most important work in our country: educating our children and having an impact on their future.
Historically, the residents of Montgomery County have shown the importance and value they place on an outstanding education by giving our school system the financial resources it needs to deliver an outstanding instructional and extracurricular program. This year is no different thanks to County Executive Marc Elrich, the County Council, the Board of Education and the superintendent. I also know that whether one is a student, teacher, administrator or anything else in life, people do well and thrive when they are appreciated, encouraged, inspired and someone believes in them. In the case of students, they super-excel when they have a personal connection with their teachers.
MCPS continues to be a great place for teachers to work. In addition to the community’s financial commitment, MCPS provides professional development, mentoring, consulting teacher support and competitive benefits and pay that saw, effectively, a 6 percent increase this year, the highest in years. Dr. McKnight wanted to let teachers and staff know they are appreciated for what they did during the pandemic and that they are valued as professionals.
The pandemic has changed the roles and responsibilities of teachers in today’s schools. Likewise, administrators have had to come up with new ways of doing things by thinking out of the box. This is why it is so important that teachers and administrators work together collaboratively and cooperatively in a spirit of unity to serve our students. I am calling for a shift in our thinking and actions that demonstrates a collective mutually respectful relationship that is supportive of each other. I urge teachers union President Jennifer Martin to leverage her public platform and highlight the great things happening in our schools. This approach will foster a sense of unity our students desperately deserve.
A longtime advocate for children and public education in Montgomery County, Jeanette Dixon was a teacher, assistant principal and principal in district schools for 30 years until her retirement in 2013. She then served as an at-large member of the Montgomery County Board of Education from 2016 until 2020.
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