EDITOR'S NOTE: This article concludes an interview of Sequim Schools Superintendent Bill Bentley by Sequim Gazette reporter Michael Dashiell. The first installment appeared
Sequim Gazette - What can parents do to make their children's schools better?
Bill Bentley - Every one of our schools welcomes assistance, volunteers, support, not only from parents but from all community members.
There's no question about how important the role of a parent is in how a student views the value of education. It is the single most important support that a child has.
A parent's ability to support a child ... is absolutely critical. There are lots of opportunities for parents to be involved if they want to be involved. I'll give you an example: the band boosters club. There's a perfect example of how parents can be involved in a very specific program that their child is interested in.
Aside of what parents can do in the school, what they do out of the school is probably the most important in terms of supporting their child.
Can we, as parents, take the time to ask the critical questions to our children when they walk in the door. "Tell me about your day. Tell me about how things are going. Do you have anything that you need to be working on? If you do, let's work on it."
SG - What's your favorite part of the beginning of the school year?
BB - My favorite day of the entire year is the first day of school. There is so much enthusiasm and so much energy. Students have not seen their friends for quite a long time. Teachers have been preparing for the day for weeks and months.
Everybody is all ready to go. It's kind of like at the start of the race.
I will not be in my office at all on the first day of school. I never have been. I love to see them come in off the buses ... walking in the halls. The energy level is pretty high. It's inspiring to be around it.
Every day, I can choose to be around the most hopeful, optimistic people on the planet. Children are all about the future. Children are the only people on the planet who can't wait to be older.
SG - Are you optimistic about this coming school year?
BB - (I'm) optimistic because we have the right people in the right places doing the right things. I think we have the right students. All of those things are a cause for a lot of optimism and a lot of hope. I don't see any other way to be when we're surrounded by all of that.
We have a theme every year in the time that I've been here ... that kind of sums up what we're going to be about that year. My first year here the theme was "Celebrate What's Right." Last year (it) was "Do Nothing to Diminish Hope."
This year our theme is "Challenges and Opportunities" because we went through a real challenging time here. I think what we want to see out of this is in every challenge there is an opportunity. I see a lot of evidence of not only people working hard but working hard together.
The only way I know to get this difficult work done is to do it with everybody. I'm very excited about that.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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