The best gift for our students

As we enter the holiday season and the season of giving, I wanted to reach out to our families and friends in Minneapolis. The best gift that a child can receive is your support in his or her pursuit of a high-quality education experience.

There is nothing more important than preparing students to be successful. I see the future leaders of Minneapolis and our world in
the bright eyes and intelligence of our students.

The most essential factor driving student achievement is the effectiveness of classroom teachers. The day-to-day teaching and learning that happens in Minneapolis schools is foundational for student success in school and beyond. This is why I continue to emphasize two critical areas to increase student achievement: focused instruction, or aligning what we teach with how we teach and how we measure student progress, and teacher evaluation, or ensuring that every classroom has an effective teacher by evaluating and providing supports to ensure the best possible outcomes for students.

Every day in the Minneapolis Public Schools, teachers and staff members devote themselves to giving wholeheartedly to students. We give time, resources and knowledge. And we give with a purpose — preparing our students for the many milestones that they will reach on their educational journey. We are teaching our students to read and write, to make the best decisions in school and in life and to succeed in the real world. Our students receive an urban education that prepares them to be global citizens.

We challenge our students to work hard and work smart inside the classroom and in their community. However, with dwindling resources available to public schools and the complex challenges of being an urban school district, I know we need our entire community to assist in achieving our vision of making every child college or career ready.

Giving matters — for our community, for our students and for their families. Some days it might seem as though the world is rocking beneath you or weighing you down as your to-do list continues to grow, but it is simple to give. Give encouragement. It’s free, and it reaches immeasurably far. Encourage a student to show up to school on time and ready to learn. Your encouragement can give a child fuel to rocket toward graduation and launch into college and a career.

In Minneapolis, we have always taken the stance that we are trailblazers and innovators. We are part of the solution. Investing in our students pays off in ways that provide a positive ripple of hope throughout the community. Giving of your time, talents and treasures makes a difference in the lives of young people. Thank you for your spirit of giving. I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.

Bernadeia H. Johnson, Ed.D., is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.