It’s an honor to serve children. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a student love to learn. Throughout my 36 years as an educator, I have received emails, notes and visits from former students who share how they enjoyed a class, learned to love history, or life lessons that helped them grow to be a better person. When I hear these stories, I can’t help but become emotional. These stories are why I serve children.
As I reflect on my years in education, I think of the many changes in legislation and community expectations. Public education began with the primary focus of teaching basic reading, writing and math, as well as values that serve a democratic society. This was the foundation for the one-room schoolhouse.
Fast forward to the days my Mom and Dad went to school, public schools were required to begin teaching about nutrition and health to help prevent diseases. Immunizations slowly became necessary when enrolling in school.
When I was in school, additional courses were added and parents began to have higher expectations from schools. Some of these expectations include physical education, home economics, vocational and business education, art, music and speech, to name a few. During this time, transportation was slowly added, school lunch programs were implemented, half-day kindergarten started appearing along with expanded math and science courses, as well as stronger foreign language requirements.
As I began my career in education, drug and alcohol abuse education became a need. Special Education services started expanding and Advanced Placement courses were offered in high schools along with Title IX regulations. Title IX requires equal athletic opportunities between men and women. Title I had been part of the education system for about 10 years providing additional funding to schools with a high enrollment of students on free and reduced lunch.
When I first started serving as a Superintendent, offering full-day kindergarten became a priority along with providing pre-kindergarten for students who qualified for this service. Alternative education in all forms, conflict resolution and peer mediation programs became part of the public educational system.
A few years after I became Superintendent, expanded Gifted and Talented opportunities, technical adequacy and virtual learning were becoming fully implemented across all school districts nationwide. Child abuse notification systems were put in place and became a legal requirement for all educators, as well as CPR training.
During the last few years, bully prevention, anti-harassment policies and training, obesity monitoring, financial literacy, entrepreneurial and innovation skill development, as well as media literacy, have become critical to ensure our students receive a well-rounded education.
I have seen the list of additions grow tremendously during my time as an educator. These additions to our public schools continue to change to meet the needs of our workforce and combat societal issues. Our teachers and staff continue to exceed expectations by meeting the ever-changing needs of our students in partnership with the needs set forth by our community. It is because of our exceptional teachers and staff that Lewisville ISD continues to be a leader in public education.
Dr. Stephen F. Waddell, superintendent
Lewisville Independent School District