A guest editorial from
State Superintendent Tony Evers
Wisconsin’s 2017 graduates are ready to launch into the future. They have completed requirements for English, mathematics, science, social studies, health, and physical education. But, their PK-12 education is more than core academics. Our students also take art, music, world language, and career and technical education classes to prepare for the next steps in life.
Beyond academic classes, students have a range of athletic and extracurricular opportunities that support the social and emotional learning employers tell us they prize. Things like punctuality, empathy, and persistence. The ability to communicate, lead effectively, and set and meet goals. These “soft skills” are often part of an informal curriculum, modeled by our teachers and taught through day-to-day classroom interactions. These lessons also might be passed along through a coach insisting free throws must be second nature, a music teacher rehearsing until the blend of voices or instruments is just right, a mentor urging students to try another option to solve a design problem, or a student group working together to bring about change in the school or community. These too are important lessons that contribute to school and life success.
Learning these skills starts at home and is reinforced in our 4 and 5 year-old kindergarten classrooms all the way through elementary and middle school and into high school. Really though, social and emotional learning never stops. It is part of being a responsible adult: a commitment to lifelong learning and personal improvement.
Our 56,000 plus public school graduates have plans and dreams beyond high school. Most will go on to more education at technical college or university programs. Some will join the military, start work, or finish apprenticeship training they started in high school. Whatever their path, our graduates will use the knowledge and skills they learned in school every step of the way.
And that’s my message to the Class of 2017. Whether you’ve already crossed the stage or will march to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” in the coming days, a high school diploma isn’t the end. It’s a step toward the future. Never stop learning.