For the past 33 years as a teacher in the Leon County school system, I have worked with thousands of students and hundreds of teachers, principals, and support staff who share my passion for students and learning. But we need to address some very serious issues in our schools.
First and foremost is the question of trust. Parents have every right to know what is happening to their children in the classroom and we achieve this by demanding truth and transparency in the parent-student-teacher relationship. We must work together to regain that trust in our schools.
School safety is also crucial. I will be a strong advocate for our school safety department. I support having our local law enforcement and trained guardians on our campus.
In recent years, our teachers have seen an increase in disturbing incidents. These are not just “school” problems, but a societal problem. We have students, families, and staff who face tremendous pressures, just like our society, and all too often these issues manifest themselves in the classroom.
We must support our teachers by working to ensure they are adequately remunerated and have ample opportunities for meaningful training. We must give teachers the support they need in the classroom and include mentorship programs for new teachers and work towards hiring teachers earlier to retain good teachers.
As parents, we need to limit the content our children are exposed to, especially when it comes to social media, which has a tremendous impact on every aspect of their young lives. Many studies have shown how excessive consumption and emphasis on social media has impacted student behavior, increased depression, and even increased suicide rates in our teens.
Fortunately, there is a proven way to combat these negative influences. Education leaders must set goals to help our students and families grow in four discipline areas: physical, mental, social, and spiritual health.
As a physical education teacher throughout my career, I have seen firsthand the benefits of students pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and physical fitness are integral parts of quality education.
At the same time, improving mental health through academic rigor and study, combined with a robust and supportive real-world social network of friends and family, can be accompanied by spiritual growth that emphasizes a calling greater than ourselves.
We must work to recruit volunteers and mentors in our schools to help promote these values. It is also important to get local churches and community organizations to join our schools so that our entire community works together.
If we can focus on these critical areas for improvement, our children will be the beneficiaries.
We have some amazing teachers, principals, support staff and administrators who are passionate about student development. It’s time to get healthy physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually as we work to build genuine relationships with one another. With the right focus, we will reduce unhealthy distractions and behavior problems, and provide a quality educational experience for each and every student.
What makes me the best candidate to tackle the problems of the moment?
I’ve spent my entire career with all of these key groups that need to come together to achieve our common goals. I have worked with Leon County teachers, administrators, law enforcement, staff, parents, and of course, students for more than three decades. I have the support of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors and the Capital Outlook and a broad base of support.
We must all work together to identify and solve the complex problems we face. I’m a proven leader with a career of experience and I’m asking for your vote.
Laurie Cox retired after a 33-year career as a physical education teacher in the Leon County School District. She is a candidate for the Leon County School Board, District 4.
(Editor’s note: Candidates on the November 8 general election ballot are allowed one opinion column this cycle. The Democrat will not publish columns after Friday, November 4th.
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