Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Summit debates bolstering student self-image as goal for schools


WESTMINSTER -- When schools have so much else to do, how important is it to instill students with a positive self-image?

Some educators and community members taking part in a system-wide, goal-setting summit felt the goal didn't belong on the list of seven essential results the public schools should ensure for their graduates.

It could come at the expense of more important goals, they said.

"I just didn't think the teachers could accomplish all of this," said David Roush of Westminster, who has a child in the county school system and who is the plant manager for Lehigh Portland Cement in Union Bridge.

Stephanie Tighe of Sykesville felt that goal was most important and universal. She is a mother of three and president of the Learning Disabilities Association of Carroll County. Her daughter has a learning disability.

"They're all goals I think all parents want their children to be able to do," Ms. Tighe said.

But many children with disabilities will not be able to meet most of the goals that deal with academics, she said.

The development of a positive self-image, she said, is the only one of the seven goals that all children in the system could meet, Ms. Tighe said.

Mr. Roush, Ms. Tighe and other business people and parents joined teachers, administrators and students Monday in the "exit outcomes summit" at Westminster High School. About 200 people took part in small group discussions to establish the goals that will drive the curriculum in Carroll County Schools.

Over the last month, the groups have been meeting to draft a set of seven broad "outcomes" -- qualities or skills students should have when they leave school.

Administrators have said that once the community decides what students should know, the school system will work to streamline the curriculum and focus on those goals.

And, local educators will use the goals in deciding graduation requirements.

The summit members approved all seven goals with at least an 80 percent majority.

The goal for a positive self-image got the most "no" votes -- 17 percent, said Gary Dunkelberger, director of curriculum and staff development.

He said a committee will consider rewording it, using the summit participants' detailed evaluation sheets as a guide.

The seven "outcomes" say that to get a high school diploma, all graduates should be:

L * Able communicators in written, spoken and numerical forms.

* Collaborative workers who can use effective leadership and group skills.

* Individuals with a positive self-concept who maintain physical, emotional and mental wellness.

* Innovative producers who demonstrate skill in creating, evaluating and appreciating intellectual, artistic and practical products.

* Involved citizens who contribute to improving the local and global quality of life.

* Perceptive problem solvers.

* Self-directed, lifelong learners.

Mr. Roush said that while all the outcomes are desirable, some are much more important than others. For example, he felt the first one, the ability to communicate, was the most important for people entering the working world.

"There is so much we have to do in a job situation that requires communication," Mr. Roush said.

"Positive self-image and collaborative workers are very desirable," he said, "but it's hard to get a grip on what you teach, and how you measure if you've gotten there."

Those are good questions, said Dr. Dunkelberger, and educators will work over the next few years to find ways to teach and measure whether students have such qualities.

He said the goal for a positive self-image came from summit participants who believe "that it's important people be entering the world of work with a positive self-image that they can do things."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad