Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.

The importance of creating an environment in which our students feel strongly connected to their school can’t be understated.  Connected students achieve at higher levels, graduate more frequently, and have greater success once they leave high school.

We know that positive relationships with meaningful adults and other students pay high dividends for our students’ connectedness to their schools.  Educational Researcher John Hattie has found that these positive relationships have a direct and impactful effect on student achievement.  One of the best indicators of success for students transferring from one school to another is whether or not they create meaningful friendships with their peers.  We have a responsibility to help foster the creation of these positive peer relationships. The Longview Public Schools also recognize that the adults in our schools have a paramount duty to create positive relationships with each of our students.  This is a key component in their academic success.  In fact, the positive relationships a student may establish with any meaningful adult can have a tremendous impact on their academic and social success.  For many of our students, this connection is found within their family and at school.  But that is not the case for all of our students.  Some need the caring concern that comes from a neighbor, a church, a local business person, an elected official, or any other adult who takes an interest in their success in school and life.  I encourage those of you who are reading this column to become that advocate for one of our students who might not have many positive and meaningful adult relationships in their life.  Your genuine concern for their wellbeing and educational success can have an incredibly positive impact on their future achievement.

The creation of diverse elective courses, and a rich array of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities also play an important role in creating these connecting opportunities for our students.  These kinds of programs are an essential part of a comprehensive educational experience.  We provide encounters in areas such as the Arts, Engineering, Medical Science, Athletics, Student Clubs, Computer Science, International Languages, and Career and Technical Education which provide opportunities beyond core content areas that assure our students additional connecting experiences that enrich their educational success.  Additionally, transitions between grade bands need special attention if our students are to be successful.  Of particular importance is the transition from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school.  A part of this transition is social but creating an awareness of the many options available to our students is also of great importance.  We strive to help our students find the areas that pique their interests, that help them explore their talents, that challenge them to new experiences, that ultimately help them find their niche. It does not matter what area a student finds, what matters is that they find a place where they feel successful, appreciated, and honored.  This is a challenge the Longview Public Schools embrace and we look forward to strengthening our partnerships with the local business community to provide even greater opportunities that will enhance our students’ connectedness.