Principal Rick Ellis

Phone: (585) 786-8000 ext. 2308

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Principal Rick Ellis

  • Nothing Will Work Unless You Do
    Winter 2019

    A friend of mine and I were hanging out at my house one evening watching the Sabres. My buddy has been teaching for 18 years. Inevitably, our conversations go back to teaching and learning. This conversation is one that we have often: “Why are students so often disengaged in the classroom?”

    This conversation can go in many directions, and often does. Is it cell phones, technology, parenting, entitlement, society, etc? I imagine that it's all of the above. Unfortunately, the conversation is rarely positive. We concur that the students become more challenging every year and their work ethic is poor. It's frustrating because we try numerous strategies to engage students during school.

    During the conversation, my friend stated that (although he sounds old) he thinks cell phones are a big problem - even though he allows kids to use their phones for educational purposes in his class. I don’t necessarily agree with this. I do believe that cell phones have definitely had an impact on kids’ lives and even how we parent; however, if teachers set parameters around cell phone use, they don’t have to be a distraction. I have often said that technology advancement is all these kids know. Cell phones and instant information at your fingertips is their way of life.

    I believe work ethic is one area that needs to be addressed more often, especially outside of school. Our childhood is when we develop the habits and skills necessary to be productive, successful citizens. We need to model, and instill in our kids, a good work ethic that will help in all facets of their lives. Work ethic is especially important in school. Students learn the positive habits and skills necessary to study and perform well in classes. I hear this statement made way too often by students: “I wish I had worked harder earlier in school.” When you’re a senior and start to decide on what you want to do, you realize you can’t go to the school you want. Why? You didn’t work hard enough through high school.

    Around 70% of kids that graduate high school with a “C” average will not graduate with a bachelor’s degree. The statistics are not very promising. They now track college graduation rates  over a six-year period – that rate is around 59%. Of those graduates, high school GPA was the best indicator of success. Students’ school success captures the whole student – from attendance to completing assignments on time. These factors contribute to future success. Students need to cultivate these behaviors in order to succeed in college.

    Some of the ways we can help is by instilling a good work ethic. Provide tasks around the house for the kids to complete, like cleaning their room or walking the dog. Increase responsibility as they grow. You can also perform some tasks with them. Show them the importance of taking pride in what they do, even the little things. Tie work tasks to a goal. This helps them plan for something and work to achieve it. Setting realistic goals and having to work to achieve those goals is a valuable life-long lesson.

    Steps to develop a good work ethic at school start with punctuality. Each year I remind students about the importance of attendance and being on time. You need to be on time to learn and on time in life. Another step is develop positive characteristics. Be respectful, honest, and cordial to others. These traits help develop a reputation of being fair and consistent. Setting goals and using time management skills to achieve those goals are additional steps to becoming better workers. Planning and using timelines to compete work prior to the due date keeps you from procrastinating and falling behind. Set realistic goals and use your time productively.

    Work ethic is essential for success. Take small steps to start, set realistic goals, and use your time wisely to achieve those goals. With continued effort, your work ethic will become ingrained in everything you do. I am going to leave you with a quote from Maya Angelou, “Nothing will work unless you do!”