District is headed in right direction, but there's work to do
For many Lake Oswego residents who don't have children in the schools, the first warm days of spring are what bring the rhythms of the school year back into focus. Sunny mornings show the elementary schoolers at their bus stops; the light evenings reveal middle schoolers testing their new freedom by walking and talking in packs around town. Weekends at the library now feature high schoolers studying in (usually) whispered groups.
It's appropriate, then, that our school board elections occur at this time of year: what better time to focus on the importance of education than the spring?
I've walked every school neighborhood in Lake Oswego over the past three months, from grand homes in the hills high above Hallinan to modest apartment buildings within the Oak Creek boundaries. Everywhere I've gone, it's clear that our schools and our students are a top priority for everyone.
There was the father who burst with pride as he told me about his daughter's acceptance to a top college engineering program and his appreciation of the challenging opportunities she had been offered in our schools. A mother of two boys on the autism spectrum invited me in to talk at her kitchen table about her ideas on how we could make our special education programs stronger for children like hers.
I heard the love of our schools from a father who not only put his own two children all the way through the schools, but had foster children that also benefitted from them. I listened to the heartache of a mother whose now-adult son had been sent out of the district because of his special needs; she squeezed my hand as I described how the district was doing all it could now to keep these students in their home schools.
And I heard from the kids themselves: a kindergartener told me in exuberant detail how much he loved learning to read and how his librarian was so nice to lead him to new books. And when I teased a third grader that we had canceled summer vacation to have more days for school, she was thrilled — until I told her I was kidding and school was going to end as planned.
I hope we can all recapture that love of learning and acceptance of growth and change. I'm proud of the work I have done on the school board this year, with our amazing administration, teachers and staff so dedicated to the educational paths of each and every student. This great team I'm so fortunate to be a part of is focused on removing obstacles to ensure the best learning path for each and every child. We have worked to make school safer and more fulfilling for all. We have work to do to reach every student, but we are growing in the right direction.
Our community lifts up education as its most important value. If reelected, I pledge to listen, be flexible and be accountable as we move forward towards a more inclusive, more student-centric and more successful outcome for more students, with attention to our whole community which so deeply loves and values its students but deserves accountability for the financial contribution it makes.
There is still more to do. I am energized to continue to work for you and our students. I ask for your vote by May 21.
John Wallin is running for reelection to the Lake Oswego School Board.
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