Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bus #3: Lessons learned with middle school students

I don't really fit on Bus #3. The other 45 people on board - 24 middle school boys, 18 middle school girls, and three adult chaperones - all attend Novi Middle School. The chaperones are teachers. The boys and girls are students.

Boys are in the front. Girls are in the back. Chaperones sit in the middle - the demilitarized zone if you will.

I'm the Superintendent and, on this bus, a bit of an outsider.

There are seven buses all told. Over 300 students and 27 chaperones. We are bound for Washington DC. The 8th grade trip.

It's late. After midnight. We left Novi at 8:00 PM and will drive all night. We will get to our nation's Capitol in time for breakfast. We will spend three days in a whirlwind of activity.

But right now it's quiet. Everyone has settled down nicely.

Two rows ahead of me a young man squirms trying to get comfortable. Behind me two girls whisper and giggle.

Middle school students can be a handful. All hormones and emotion. Decision making is not a strength.

Yet tonight, as I sit on this bus and look at the students who surround me, I can see their innocence. They have so much to learn about the world.

Oh, I know, they probably know more than I do about the world. Yet, they lack perspective. These young men and women can teach me a lot. Yet, they need me as well.

The world they live in is sometimes rough and cruel. They are confronted by rudeness and inappropriateness every day. Adults model behaviors for these young people that, as the Superintendent, I cringe at.

Yet, tonight on a bus somewhere in Pennsylvania on the way to Washington DC, I realize that these young people need our best effort. They need adults who care. They need adults who will lead. They need adults who will help them learn. These young people need adults who see the potential in each and every one of them.

The world moves fast. These young people need adults who will help them find their voice so that they can keep up.

I'm glad I'm on this bus. I'm glad I get a chance to interact with these young people. I hope I can help them find their way.

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