This event recap details Ed’s experience at Leadership Frederick County (LFC) Education Day on Friday, January 17, 2014.
Education Day unofficially began Thursday evening when Dr. Theresa Alban announced the Fiscal 2015 Operating Budget at Oakdale High School.
On a slushy Friday morning, our LFC class met at Mount Saint Mary University’s satellite campus in Frederick. By 8:00 a.m., we were warm, well fed, and ready to go! The following is a small snapshot of what we explored throughout the day:
Frederick County has several alternative education opportunities.
Debbie Powell provided an overview of the day and briefed us on the many continuing education and graduate programs available at the Mount’s satellite campus. Stephen Parnes (The Banner School), Erin Buck Seeks (Maryland School for the Deaf), Melissa Phillips (St. John’s Catholic Prep) and Christine Pratt (Homeschool Practitioner) proffered an excellent overview of the alternative educational opportunities in the county.
Our very existence is an ongoing investigation regarding the creation and appreciation of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Later that morning, Dr. David Rehm (Provost, Mount Saint Mary University) filled multiple roles. To begin, he engaged us in a lively conversation regarding the purpose of higher education. Having addressed our many thoughts, he proposed that higher education serves two fundamental purposes. First, it offers necessary credentials for work—our professional lives. Second, it intrinsically engages students in character formation. Education prepares us for our lives from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and it prepares us for the complexities of the many roles we play during the 24-hour day. Education is inherently about the liberal arts; our very existence is an ongoing investigation regarding the creation and appreciation of truth, beauty, and goodness in our public and private lives. The liberal arts help us examine who we are and who we strive to be. Human life is not static. Dr. Rehm provided a brief overview of the Mount’s Veritas Program, which fosters the liberal arts and its Institute for Leadership that develops all students as leaders.
More than 10% of the jobs that people will hold next decade do not exist today.
Following a quick trip to Hood College, Dr. Ron Volpe (President, Hood College) and Doug Browning (President, Frederick Community College) joined Dr. Rehm in a continued discussion of how higher education strives to meet the needs of students in an ever-changing global society. Technology is necessary in today’s world, but it rapidly changes and becomes outdated; over 10% of the jobs that people will hold in the next decade do not exist today. Our credentials and technology will always change, and we must know how to adapt with them. Hopefully, our core character is less transient; ethical conduct, including our concern for others, should be a durable facet of our existence.
The promise of public education.
A warm lunch, prepared by the culinary students, was waiting for us at the FCPS Career and Technology Center. Michael Concepcion (Principal) outlined the school’s programs and shared Mike Rowe’s testimony regarding the need for people trained in “Dirty Jobs.” How quickly we can ignore the need for good plumbers until we desperately need one!
Following a tour of CTC, Dr. Theresa Alban (Superintendent, FCPS) addressed “The Promise of Public Education.” She was joined by Jason Anderson (Executive Director of Curriculum), Derek Root (Director of Technology), Jeanine Molock (Director of Research), and Joy Schaefer (President of the Board of Education) to discuss FCPS’s mission and goals in a changing Frederick County.
Munching on mid-afternoon snacks, we took our yellow school bus to the Earth, Space, and Science Laboratory for a quick presentation and tour by Jeff Grills and Mark Bowman. We visited the newly rebuilt Lincoln Elementary School where we discussed what we had learned regarding the challenges to education.
More than 26% of FCPS students live in poverty.
Reflecting on the day, we enjoyed breakfast, lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack. I am not a gourmand; I have just been troubled since Thursday evening. Dr. Alban informed the Frederick community that 10,000 of our FCPS students—over 26% of our children—live in poverty. That percentage has almost doubled since 2003. It is up 8% in the past five years. Many students receive breakfast and lunch at school, but what do they do at night and on weekends? How many additional students live on the cusp of poverty? How many students do not enjoy the meals that most of us take for granted? Students do not learn, they do not develop critical thinking skills, when they are hungry and unsure of their next meal. Children do not make the choice to live in these conditions. But we can make choices about whether we allow these conditions to continue.
The FCPS Mission.
We have a plethora of choices regarding educational opportunities in our county. We have homeschooling, private, religious, and independent schools. We have various academies and programs within our public schools. We have multiple options for higher education. They are all fundamentally concerned with preparing students for what they will do from 9-to-5, as well as who they will be during the 24-hour day. Every educational program is concerned with promoting reading, writing and critical thinking. They are concerned with empowering citizens to discern truth, beauty, and goodness in their public and private lives. Hopefully, these lives are not in conflict, they are not segregated as Lincoln Elementary was once segregated, but are part of a seamless whole. Thus, all our schools are part of a public debate and vision regarding how to foster successful individuals and a successful public. Not a bad mission for our schools.
Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Debbie Powell (LF C 2012), Stephen Parnes (LF C 2012), Beth Pasierb, and all other contributing members to the LFC Education Day Team.