All In: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
What an exciting time of year! Between May 24 and June 13, thousands of Montgomery County students are graduating from high school. Many will go on to Montgomery College or colleges and universities across the state, nation and world. Others will enter the workforce, join the military, or begin internships and apprenticeships in our community. The breadth of these next steps speaks to one of the essential purposes of the school system, which is to ensure that each student is college- and career-ready, and has options and choices after graduation.
I often speak about the importance of every student having these options and choices. To achieve this goal, thousands of teachers, support professionals and administrators have worked diligently to ensure our 2019 graduates have progressed through school, and we will cheer them on as they receive their diplomas and head out into the world.
Educators do not work alone in this endeavor. Family and community members play essential roles as well. It is important for our graduates to pause and thank the many adults who have made a positive difference in their lives.
To design a school system that prepares students for college and career, it is imperative that we understand the world our graduates will find as they leave high school. Change is an ever-present part of life, and the acceleration of the change that is taking place as they become adults is significant. For example, the effects of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics are all having an impact on the workforce, and that impact is certain to grow in the next decade. The increase in technology will eliminate certain jobs, while creating others. One interesting example is a Japanese company, Mujin, which is creating robot controllers with the goal of fully automating warehouses and fulfillment centers. If successful, this will eliminate jobs for warehouse workers and forklift operators, but create technical jobs building and programming robot controllers.
Initiatives like this deeply affect the number of workers needed in certain careers leading to a widely discussed and acknowledged challenge in our rapidly changing world—the skills gap. Jobs go unfilled because companies cannot find applicants with the necessary knowledge and skills.
It is critical that school systems, including ours, work closely with industries and businesses to identify the skills students will need in the future. This will ensure a talent pipeline for years, immensely benefitting students. An article in Forbes, 5 Ways to Address the Widening Skills Gap, states that, “A number of different professional associations can help […] inform educators at the high school and college levels on what skills are lacking in the workforce so they can use that knowledge to inform their curriculum decisions.”
I am proud that MCPS works closely with its business community and has multiple partnerships that enlighten our curriculum, programs and course offerings. Some examples of these partnerships include Strathmore, KID Museum, Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
We continually update our curriculum and programs so they are relevant to the future our students will enter. We also work diligently to ensure that ALL students have access to the most rigorous courses possible.
Each generation has faced challenges and opportunities like this. There is no doubt that our educators and this generation of young Americans is up to the challenge. Our job as adults must be to give all students opportunities to learn and grow as they prepare to replace us as the leaders and decision makers of the future.
I want to wish every 2019 graduate the very best in the coming days and in the years ahead. You have a good educational foundation and tremendous potential. I hope you go out into the world and use it for good.
Good Read/Good Listen/Good View
As we all know, learning doesn’t stop when you become an adult. I am constantly learning about new ideas and exploring new perspectives. I do this through books, articles and podcasts. Each blog, I will share a few of the most interesting ones with you. Some have made me ask questions, some have irritated me; others have made me smile or frown. I hope they make you think critically and open doors to new information and ideas.
Highlights of the 2019 Distinguished Service Awards speeches
Voices of MCPS Grads Video Series
Gaithersburg High School Commencement Speech