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Statement of Philosophy

Kevin R. Stansberry

Throughout my twenty-six years in public school education I have always viewed myself as an educational leader.  My roles and responsibilities always went far beyond the threshold of the classroom and the doors of the institution.  Even as I followed career promotions to administrative posts, I still felt strongly attached to that image.  As a Social Studies teacher, I facilitated the instructional process and engaged students in their own learning processes.  As a coach, I was able to indoctrinate the skills, preparation, and focus necessary to successfully compete interscholastically for the many athletes in my charge.  As a Director of Athletics, I make decisions and create a positive arena for growth, development and achievement on behalf of the total student-athlete.  In every instance, I lead by example, model proper behaviors and expectations, and I am driven by an unrelenting commitment to excellence.  These values and anchors are all derived from a solid family foundation, inspirational and caring educators and exposure to a multitude of academic and extra-curricular opportunities.  My high school years have been some of the most cherished memories of my life, all impacted by the quality of education and related experiences afforded me.  There is no doubt that my matriculation to public school education was greatly influenced by those quality individuals and my engagement in a vast array of character-building activities.

In an ever-changing global environment where interdependency abounds, the best and the highest quality of education is a necessity no longer reserved for the few, but demanded for all.  High schools must make it part of their mission to help young people understand that life without the intellectual tools for fully participating in society and the marketplace constitutes a sentence to likely destitution.  A young person who grows into adulthood unequipped to reach his or her full potential will possess neither the knowledge nor the will to contribute to making this a better society.  Ensuring the development of an educated populace is the founding purpose of public education. Teachers must expose students to the connections among and between subjects that high schools expect them to learn.  Showing students how to apply what they know underscores the practicality of knowledge and heightens students' interest in the material.  I have always felt that all students can learn and learn well given the right opportunities to develop mentally, physically and socially.  This means that teachers must utilize instructional strategies that engage all students and make them part of their learning process.

As a teacher, coach, or administrator, a few beliefs have remained constant in my approach to education.  A major part of my foundation has been based on the phrase, "First We Will Be Best, Then We Will Be First."  I have always felt that concentrating on reaching one's potential and in many instances exceeding those expectations results in progress, achievement and ultimate success.  If we take the necessary steps of mastering our daily routines and focusing on the areas that are within our control, then we have prepared ourselves for any situation, whether it is an assessment, competitive scenario or departmental matter.  The practice remains habitual and can be applied to any circumstance.  In order to be the best, considerations involving facilities, equipment, personnel, and access to adequate funding have to be priorities as well.  Placing students in an environment conducive to achievement fosters success.  Schools and classrooms that excite and challenge students and promote their creativity greatly support learning.  There is a series of three questions that have also played a significant role in the way that I approach my responsibilities, and have become expectations for not only myself, but for the student-athletes and educators in my department.  1) "Can you be trusted?" 2) "Do you care?" and 3) "Are you committed to excellence?"  The responses to these questions are important factors that are reflected in the quality of individual and group performances.  Students want to feel worthy, they want to believe that what they are doing is worthwhile and they want to know that their teachers and coaches are trustworthy.  There has been added emphasis on schools to provide attributes of a good home.  The inclusion of caring, concern and connection are crucial to the emotional and intellectual development of students and affects the receptivity of students to teaching/coaching.  When these needs are fulfilled, there exist an endless potential for growth, progress and complete development.  As reported by a Stanford Research release, the formula for success relies on 12.5% content and 87.5% people skills.  Generating genuine enthusiasm and positive attitudes will have a profound affect on aptitude, which ultimately impacts the magnitude of altitude.  Intelligence is capable of growing throughout our lives.  The disease of low expectations can prevent students from realizing their strengths and talents.

I believe there is an incredible correlation between the strategies, preparation and approaches of successful teachers and successful coaches.  In fact, I made this point quite clear during an in-service program I delivered to the Social Studies department in January.  It happens to be one of the major themes in my "Coaching Principles" course as well.  Coaching involves a kind of teaching that creates active learners.  It has often been said that, "In a healthy and successful classroom, the educator plays the role of a winning coach."

I have subscribed to a kaleidoscope of educational philosophies and theories that I blended into a synergistic composition that best provides a complete and solid foundation for the total development of all students in an educational setting.  Essentialism instills such traditional American virtues of respect for authority, perseverance, fidelity to duty, consideration for others and practicality.  Citizens must be intellectually equipped to preserve democratic institutions and to assume their civic obligations to contribute to and participate in a democratic life.  I am also an advocate for Progressivism, which takes into consideration the individual student according to his or her interest and needs.  In a progressivist classroom students are encouraged to learn by doing and to interact with one another, which develops social virtues such as cooperation, tolerance for different points of view, open-mindedness and other-mindedness.  Students solve problems in the classroom similar to those they will encounter outside of school.  In student-centered instruction, the student, not the teacher, becomes the "maker" of knowledge.  Students discover on their own what teachers under most circumstances are accustomed to "revealing" to students.  Teachers must utilize a plethora of methodologies to reach each individual's learning style. Students need to see the relevance of the content as it pertains to their lives.  In this process the teacher offers high expectations, but also offers a lot of ladders.  Students will find they can discover the answers to what they do not know, and that means they will have learned how to learn, essentially ensuring that they will become life-long learners.

With the arrival of "No Child Left Behind" guidelines, now more than ever, schools and administrators have to be cognizant of the role of assessment as it pertains to content retention, reading and writing in all disciplines for all students.  I have often believed that assessment can serve as the curriculum.  Assessment, as an evolving process, can reveal at any point what has been learned and what remains to be learned, leading the way for developing continuing learning strategies.  It is cyclical in nature and is part of an ongoing process. Assessment should not be about failure and catching students making mistakes, but should be an instrument to gauge learning and what students can do.

Technology must be incorporated to equip students with the skills necessary to prepare students for life in the 21st century.  Students have been more readily exposed to technology and expect its use to be part of their educational process.  In every discipline, if utilized properly, technology will impact the quality of instruction and the ability to offer boundless resources for research, experimentation, and global connectedness.  Distance learning will be made available to link subject matter to experts and locations not available under the traditional structure of education.  These sources will magnify understanding in addition to providing educators with another medium for professional development and improvement.  All stakeholders in the educational process will have access to vital information that will better communicate the mission of public schools, the vision of education, the daily itinerary of instruction and student progress.

The process for excellence in education is not a solo performance.  The involvement of all stakeholders is pertinent to the success of our mission.  Parents, guardians, local government, alumni, and community members must become active, supportive participants in the educating of our number one priority, the youth of the greatest nation in the world.  Including them in the process and imparting them to share in the development of policies, performance goals and funding of educational aims and pursuits creates a sense of ownership and endorsement from the community.  The involvement of students in the educational process is equally as important.  They must appreciate the magnitude of their good fortune and take advantage of the opportunities for growth afforded to them.  That sense of responsibility must be modeled and enforced by parents, teachers and administrators.  Their involvement should not stop in the classroom.  Their input is a valuable resource for making decisions that impact the total functioning of the educational process.  Forums must be created and called upon for feedback, review, and for the creation of student initiatives.  Their participation will prepare them for a productive role in adulthood and for their post-secondary pursuits.  Students have been an overlooked resource in the equation for school reform and focus.

Mount Olive High School
18 Corey Road Flanders, NJ 07836
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