The power and importance of education

Closeup of a key and paper note with Education text

I don’t think I could believe more strongly in education.  My life has been shaped by my education, from Mr. Dempsey’s 7th Grade class at Curtis Junior High to the Leadership Class at the U.S. Naval Academy, and from Construction Law classes at the University of Washington to Tribal Relations training at Pierce County. These classes have expanded my knowledge, broadened my understanding, and better prepared me for my future.

I recently read an article about our own Jeremy Carnahan, wastewater operations supervisor, in “Treatment Plant Operator” Magazine. I have included a link and encourage you to read it, too

What stood out to me is Jeremy’s hunger to learn more and become better.  Starting from his service in the Army and critical work done in Iraq, he has been – and continues to be – on a relentless journey to learn more about his profession and become a better leader.  I love that one of his pet peeves is “That’s the way it has always been done.”  He is constantly challenging the status quo – he is an innovator, but not reckless.  He fully understands and appreciates the critical responsibility he and his team have to our community in operating our wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

I also love that one of Jeremy’s favorite quotes is from Richard Branson – “Train people well enough to leave but treat them well enough that they want to stay.”  I could not agree more!

Finally, Jeremy likes to “do the math,” which is particularly important in running our WWTP.  I smiled when I read that – I am a “math guy” too.

I stopped by the treatment plant to congratulate Jeremy on his recognition this week!

Jeremy Carnahan and I are both math guys!

Speaking of education, school started this week for many students in our community – and it was far from normal.  While the importance of our children’s K-12 education hasn’t changed, COVID-19 has changed just about everything else for them.  I am very thankful that our “July Peak” in new cases is firmly behind us and our cases have been falling since early August.  Our new 14-day average case rate on September 1st (46), was roughly half of what it was on August 1st (91).  Our COVID-19 test “positivity” is declining as well.

I am very thankful for all the school leaders, teachers, and support staff that have been working tirelessly to prepare for this Fall.  While schools have been starting with remote learning, I am confident many schools will soon be able to resume in-person classes.  In-person is particularly important for our youngest learners, those with disabilities, and students with disadvantages.  But even these in-person classes will be very different from last Fall.  The school must follow specific safety precautions – like we have in our workplaces.  Masks, social distancing, hand washing and rigorous cleaning are now part of the school day.  The majority of our schools, even when they can resume in-person instruction, will be in a “hybrid” configuration to meet the classroom separation guidelines.

I can’t fathom all the obstacles and changing circumstances our school professionals are facing.  I have been on the phone with school leaders from Carbonado to Charles Wright and from Puyallup to Peninsula.  It is going to be a very challenging Fall for school administrators, teachers, students, and parents – including many of our co-workers with students at home.  I would say “hug a teacher,” but it might be better to just say “thank you.”

I asked one of our exceptional colleagues how the start of school was going for her kindergartner with remote learning.  She sighed and shared it was difficult to get him to “log on” on day two.  I will be thankful when her school can resume in-person, safely, so her son can fall in love with learning like I have.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the long weekend!