Our Voice: We're grateful for learning and nonstop learners

March 5, 2014 

We've been thinking about mentors lately: People who encourage, inspire and support young people. There are thousands of kids in the Mid-Columbia who can use a little one-on-one attention from an adult.

We all have interactions with students, some more than others. And we hope that most adults can look back and find at least one person who made a difference in their lives.

Mark Twain principal

Congratulations are in order to Principal Valerie Aragon at Pasco's Mark Twain Elementary, partly because she is in the running for the National Distinguished Principal Award, but mostly because she is making a difference in kids' lives.

She said she's not doing anything that everyone else isn't doing. We recognize that many people are doing much good in the world. Not all of them will be nominated for an award.

We're grateful for the people who work with our kids.

Good teachers and principals make a difference in our community.

Online learning

We all learn in different ways. Some are good with a lecture; others need hands-on experience. And some of us depend on the school of hard knocks -- again and again.

The Pasco School District is trying to address the ways different students learn by expanding its online learning program to include elementary schools.

The program will be a cross between homeschool and online school. Kennewick and Richland both have similar, successful programs. Some Pasco families are using those neighboring programs.

We're glad to see the districts addressing student needs and giving them all a way to be successful.

If you are considering an alternative approach to learning, there are a few things to consider, however. One, homeschool is harder than it looks -- at least for the parents. And two, any form of education always will come down to the learner taking responsibility to learn, regardless of different learning styles.

New teachers

We're interested to see how the new student teaching program works out between the Richland School District and Heritage University.

It's a promising design that will give would-be teachers lots of classroom experience with seasoned professionals. It also will give students more attention in the classroom.

The district will place about 30 teachers in two elementary schools for three or four semesters.

The program has worked well in Yakima, so it's reasonable to expect that it will be successful here as well.

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