Elementary Schools Specials Schedule - Letter To The Editor

Dear LO Editor,

As a parent with three daughters, the oldest of which is in 8th grade, I would like to express my feelings about the upcoming Lakewood elementary schools' specials schedule. Recently, the School Board decided to not only listen to the parents (a vast 88% majority), but to also use reason when deciding to implement a balanced approach to their specials programming.

As an educator for 18 years (principal for 10) and a current school consultant for districts spanning from the Midwest to Alaska, I agree with this decision. Year after year, I am continually impressed with our music program – from the elementary concerts to the instrument development, choirs, bands, orchestras, and the Lakewood Project. Not to mention the theater and other fine arts. My children have taken full advantage of these programs that they have had access to based on their age and grade level.

I’m proud and happy that the School Board listened to parents like me and recognized that at the elementary level, balance is important. Just like sports, specialization is best suited as students and children age; balance is vital for experience.

Throughout my career, I’ve heard the arguments and I’m fully aware of the research linking music to success in math, science, and citizenship, even achievement scores. But that achievement is based on exposure, as well. Overloading in one area at the ages of 5-11 is not going to bring about those radical scores schools and districts chase. Sound instruction, safe learning environments, trusted and passionate teachers, and love for learning will move that needle far greater than a lopsided approach in one content area.

Looking at the prospective schedule for next year, I again feel the district is getting it right. The K-4 approach is well-balanced with a different experience each day and throughout the entire school year, not just during one semester. Once students hit 5th grade, instrumental music becomes more focused, which provides 40% of the week’s specials instruction – preparing them for the musical experiences gained at the middle schools. This is both developmentally appropriate and the best use of the limited time the schools and students have to experience other concentrations. Every child is unique, learns in their own unique way, and has their own unique interests. The schools’ responsibility includes learning each of those things about each child and setting them up to be uniquely successful. Physical Education/healthy living and STEM/Sciences are grossly underwhelming throughout the district at this level. Balancing out the approach is not addition by subtraction. It’s healthy, it’s wise, and it’s the right move.

Thank you, School Board, for recognizing this and taking action to support the development of our children!

Mike Jaissle, M.Ed.
Parent and Educator

Mike Jaissle

I am a Lakewood resident with 3 school-aged children. I have been an educator for 18 years and most recently served as a principal for 10 years. Currently, I am a consultant for Pearson serving districts throughout the Midwest and Alaska. My wife, Laura, and I have lived in Lakewood since 2007.

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Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 05.03.2023