Parents get back to basics

Published Sep 18, 2013 at 9:25 am (Updated Sep 18, 2013 at 9:25 am)

Another school year has begun in Bethel Park. Teachers are teaching and children are embarking on their next adventure in learning. As with each new year over the past three, there was the uneasy feeling that a teachers’�strike was looming on the horizon. Thankfully, that did not happen. Since moving to Bethel Park in 2009, I have enjoyed getting to know our community and school district—students, parents, teachers and administrators. I admire each of these groups very much because they all have difficult jobs, particularly parents. But of course, I’m biased. I have five children in four Bethel Park schools.

I’ve always had the educational philosophy that I will do my job (instill in my children a love for learning and a love for God, themselves and others) and I will leave public education to do its job (teach my children the skills they need to be productive in the work/career they choose to pursue). What I see happening the more involved I get in my children’s education is our schools are taking on more and more of my parental responsibilities. School districts are feeling forced to take on character education and anti-bullying programs which cost our communities money (for the programs themselves and the staff to teach them). The reasoning is, if we don’t address these issues, who will?� We parents are dropping the ball, and our schools are picking it up. Is it any wonder that our teachers feel deserving of a pay increase? They are doing my job and theirs, and it’s not by choice.

I want to encourage parents to take the ball back, myself included. It’s too easy to throw it to our schools. We need to be the ones who teach our children to be kind and caring, helpful and sharing, to love learning and to be respectful, to �love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And let’s extend our reach to those kids whose parents simply cannot take the ball because of overwhelming circumstances. Be a mentor, an encourager, a cheerleader for someone else’s children who may desperately need to be mentored, encouraged and cheered on to be great people. Imagine what our community would look like if we did a better job of parenting (which is the hardest and most important occupation in the world), and our schools could get back to doing only their job. Maybe, just maybe the only uneasy feelings at the beginning of a new school year would be the �first-day jitters� in our kids as they wonder who they’ll sit with at lunch!

Gail Hoppe

Bethel Park

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