Meeting expectations has always been a driving force in my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t try to meet the expectations of those older and wiser than I. Perhaps it was because I felt sorry for my mother who was constantly left alone with three children while my father traveled over the country driving his truck. If my mother couldn’t count upon me to help or to fix things, who could she turn to for such assistance? All her relatives were two hundred miles away. So, I did what I could!
When I was selected for the Gifted Program in St. Louis, I was going to be “so out of my element” that I worked doubly hard to meet expectations. After all, how could I face old school mates if I failed at the new school? One thing I didn’t understand as a youngster was that I was truly out of my element in that program. Those new classmates grew up with college-educated parents who had the typical expectations for their children to excel in professions of note after a college education. I had no idea of what a college even offered. I had no expectations for life after high school graduation.
My saving grace for college entrance was that I was not prepared to enter the clerical world of work…I had been given music lessons since I was ten years of age…and a music degree was a possibility.
What I didn’t know at the time was that God had a plan for me and my future. Now that I have walked the path, I can clearly see the people and events placed strategically in my life to lead me to service in education. His expectations, as written in the Bible I studied daily, led me to set work standards and ethics which contributed to the successes I’ve enjoyed in my life.
When I founded Lawton Academy, I explained to parents that children will “rise to the level of our expectations.” Therefore, my expectations for our students were set to a high standard. As I have watched educational standards change over my fifty+ year career, I did not budge an inch. I refused to use dumbed-down textbooks or to lower standards because some children just couldn’t be expected to achieve them. (Perfect example: “Don’t require memorization of math facts…give them a pocket chart or later on a calculator.) I am proud to say that our kids do learn these important facts!
Many teachers teach a lesson only to find quite a few students didn’t learn the concept. The error then is the failure on the part of the teacher to do everything possible to discover different ways to help those children achieve the goal. Yes, it takes hard work! Parents have expectations that a child’s teacher will help their child to learn. That should be our expectation, too. The variable may be the amount of time involved, but I believe all children can learn anything if we can teach it in terms they understand.
One of my parents gave me a plaque with a poem on it that sits in our school foyer. It talks about the teacher’s expectations for her students. At one point the teacher leads them to the edge of the cliff and tells the children to leap. “It is too hard,” they said. But with the teacher’s leading, they leapt off the edge and “they began to fly!” That meant a lot to me because their oldest child stopped talking after experiencing the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado which destroyed everything around them. I had great success with this little boy. His father wrote me and thanked me for “giving his son back to him.”
Since it takes so little to be above average, set your aims high! I promise you a life of rewards!