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How to Have a Great School Year in Geneva

My helpful tips on turning 2012-13 into a school year to remember.

Now that we’re officially headed into the, I thought it would be the perfect time to cover some back-to-school basics that’ll help make this school year one worth remembering.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

I’m probably not the only one who’s noticed Geneva’s finest , so it might behoove you to bear in mind that those 20 mph speed limits are back in effect. Granted, the GPD is great about passing out warnings, but why tempt the fates?

And the same thing applies to school busses. Thankfully, I haven’t seen anyone pass one of them in awhile. I just know how frustrating it can be to be caught behind one of them, but should you be tempted, please consider that most of them carry cameras these days.

The bottom line is, whether it’s a school speed zone or a big yellow bus with flashing red lights, exercising caution and patience is always the better part of valor.

Moving on!

Though it really oughtta be a year-round endeavor, it’s time to start paying a little closer attention to , Internet meanderings, and texts. Sadly, that’s these days, and being proactive is the best way to nip it in the bud.

You know I’m not a big fan of this type of surveillance, but it goes way beyond bullying. The sheer number of virtual predators out there that make this kind of vigilance a necessity.

We’ve already discussed the plethora of programs and apps that make Internet and text tracking easy.

Next!

I understand that teachers have become the Rodney Dangerfields of the working world, but let’s . It’s a tough job that starts early in the morning with pre-class preparation and finally ends with grading homework, tests and papers well into the evening hours.

I have yet to meet a teacher who would refuse any student who asks for a little after-school help either.

But why not take it a step further? Whether it’s career day or some other school event, plan on sharing your area of expertise with your son or daughter’s class. Not only will they benefit from your wisdom, but you’ll get a firsthand idea of just how difficult it is to hold 30 students’ attention for even a short time.

Along those same lines, while pondering the contents of this column as I roamed the streets of beautiful , I happened to run into a District 304 principal. So I asked him, “If there were one thing you could say to all those parents out there, what would it be?”

He thought about it for awhile and replied, “I would want parents to know that we really have the best interest of their child in mind. Are we perfect? No. But if we have a disagreement, I would ask that parents to keep that thought in mind. Being adversarial for its own sake gets us nowhere.”

Point well taken.

If we start the academic conversation from a common goal, we’re much more likely to avoid that unnecessary rancor.

And lastly,  has implemented a new program that I really love. This year they asked upper classmen to volunteer to help nervous incoming freshmen make the transition from the middle schools. And I’m thrilled to be able to report that 116 students signed on to become those two-week mentors.

I would encourage even more high schoolers to take them up on it next year.

But then I had another thought. Much like that highly heralded St. Charles high school Peer Leadership program, why not make it a full-time thing? And why not offer it to more than just incoming freshmen?

As you may recall, during my last year, I was utterly impressed with the caliber of the young men under Coach Rob Wicinski’s care. What if, as part of the regular responsibilities of a high school athlete, they were encouraged to mentor students who have a difficult time fitting in?

A full-time program like this (not limited to athletes) would have an amazing effect on that difficult high school dynamic. I believe it would go a long way toward mitigating the bullying problem.

So there you have it. Short and sweet. Now go out there and have a great school year!

Kate Bennett August 29, 2012 at 01:49 PM
These are all really great ideas! Particularly the mentoring program, combined with checking out your kid's Facebook. Like a bullying combopack. Love it.
Chris August 29, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Jeff ~ The teachers of Kane county appreciate the pat on the back! Thanks!
Jeff Ward August 29, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Chris, No problem! But you might want to hold off until after next Monday's column. I don't think either side - and especially the TaxFACTS folks - will be completely happy with my thoughts on the matter. Jeff
Sam August 29, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Jeff, just wanted to give you some positive reinforcement here. Here on Patch, it seems the mean-spirited, insulting columns are the ones that generate the most clicks and comments (ostensibly the Patch measure of success). This article was intelligent and compassionate - and consequently drawing very few comments. I, for one, would like to see more like it.
Metamict State August 29, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Well put.
Jeff Ward August 29, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Sam, Thanks for the compliment! As you know I rotate between those genres. It depends upon my intent and how much I want to challenge my readers. There are too many writers, pundits, and talking heads out there who simply pander to their audience. I won't do it! And I still say the chicken column is hilarious especially when you consider that a blogger wrote that he wanted to ban all bloggers. Hal is the only person that finally got it! (Congratulation Hal!) My point was to mimic the current dialog while purposely being utterly hypocritical. Though many readers will disagree, I've never purposely written a mean-spirited column. It's just that, sometimes the truth is a difficult thing to hear. The problem with this light speed culture is, we're getting far too used to having the media spoon feed us. I want to challenge my audience. I want them to think on their own. I want them to be in on the joke! But as you so cogently pointed out, there's a time to reel it in as well - and I did. As for what the next column will bring? Not even I know! Even I'm amazed at how they just come through me! Jeff
Maribeth Fromm September 03, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Great ideas Jeff and many things to keep in mind for the new school year! Loved your mentoring idea. Rob Wicinski does a stand out job with the boys and mentoring and your idea is great so that many struggling kids can be helped. High school can be tough for so many trying to fit in and your ideas are thoughtful ones!

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