Our Opinion: Respect opens opportunities for achievement

News Tribune editorial

As the Jefferson City Academic Center celebrates being named a National School of Character, it is fitting to look back to September, when the monthly character trait near the beginning of the school year was “respect.”

The academic center operated by the Jefferson City Public Schools this week earned the national recognition, becoming the first alternative school in Missouri to receive the honor.

It is a well-deserved achievement, and one we believe is based on mutual respect between students and educators, both teachers and administrators.

This comment from Principal Deanne Fisher speaks volumes: “The kids are the ones who do the changing. It takes the student to make changes to be academically successful.”

She is exactly right. We repeat our contention that learning is the dynamic spark ignited when an educated teacher connects with a motivated student.

Competent teachers are only part of the equation, which also includes receptive students.

How, then, do educators teach students with a history of being undependable, disrespectful, unmotivated and downright belligerent?

Educators at the alternative school have responded to that dilemma by offering a shared solution based on mutual respect, honesty and commitment.

Students at the center, now 140 in number, must pass an interview process and must agree to renew their commitment to learning and to abandon bad behaviors, including being disruptive or disrespectful in class.

In exchange, the academic center provides more flexible scheduling, small class sizes and more personal attention.

Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate change — to empower students to change past behaviors and attitudes that were self-imposed obstacles to learning.

An important component of that change is embracing character traits — including self-discipline, motivation, dependability — in the district’s CharacterPlus program.

We congratulate the academic center’s students and educators for earning national character recognition.

Together, they are engaged in positive changes that open doors to achievement in academics and in life.

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