Heather McAdams: The Union Way
Originally posted August 16, 2012
Employee Kickoff Celebration August 16, 2012
Comments by Board of Education President Heather McAdams
Union Public Schools
Hello, my name is Heather McAdams and I am the President of the Board of Education. I would like to start by introducing my fellow Board members here today - Ed Payton, Scott McDaniel, Jeff Bennett, and Patrick Coyle. I think I speak for us all when I say how proud and honored we are to be a part of this Board and a part of this district. We all grew up learning that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. I truly feel that Union does things the right way, the “Union Way.”
Doing things the “Union Way” means that we are a district fighting for the rights of our teachers and the rights of public schools. It means we have an award-winning financial department keeping us functioning in spite of the constant state budget changes and shortfalls. Of course ultimately, it is all about the students, so doing things the Union way means that everything we do, every battle we fight, and every decision we make is so that we can help students achieve success in any arena. This year, in fact today, we open the new Union Collegiate Academy (UCA) building. This will now allow us to offer an even wider array of high school and college-level academic opportunities to our 10th through 12th grade students. By essentially turning our High School into a functioning pre-college campus, we are helping to ease the transition from high school to college and are providing the opportunity to significantly reduce college costs. The beautiful new space for our expanded College and Career Center will also make it easier and more inviting for students to plan for their future. In addition to our UCA offerings, our virtual learning program is also taking off. It is expanding horizons and educational opportunities for our students by providing a different type of learning style, additional courses, and schedule flexibility. I have to say that one of the more exciting changes to me is our grade level administrative teams that are now moving with our students from 9th grade to graduation. Just like in our elementary buildings, having the same principals and counselors for four years provides more continuity and stability for our students. Being able to build long-term relationships between staff and students allows for guidance and counsel with a better understanding of each student’s academic abilities and provides the opportunity to stay more aware of the external challenges that can affect a student’s academic career.
Another important aspect of the “Union Way” is to provide a wide variety of extracurricular options. From music to athletics to robotics to drama, we have an option for everyone. Not only do we make these opportunities available, we make sure that each program has the right coaches, instructors, facilitators, and leaders to help students grow and learn in a supported environment. This last year saw our robotics team proving they are a highly competitive force at a national level and our junior high students yet again excelling in a speech and debate tournament hosted at Union for the first time in 20 years. We can’t forget our Renegade Regiment who impresses us with extraordinary shows every year. Now, the nation will know it, because in November 2013 they will march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Year after year our drama department amazes us as we are transported into the world of Broadway with each and every performance. Our music department continues to grow at such an incredible rate that we are now in the process of adding fine arts space to the 6th/7th Grade Center in order to accommodate all of the students who want to participate. As if the academic and fine art opportunities available to our students weren’t already incredible, our district also offers a program in just about any sport you would want to join. These athletic teams, including golf, baseball, swimming, football, basketball, and so many others are not only winning athletic championships but also team academic awards. We are a district instructing and coaching and supporting our students so they can achieve high levels of success in both academic and extracurricular arenas.
I have seen and am constantly awed by the dedication and drive of so many of our teachers who go out of their way to help their students not just as a teacher, but as a mentor, a caring figure, or just a listening ear. These kiddos BECOME yours for at least a year and sometimes a lifetime. The 5th grade student who still hugs his 1st grade teacher every morning, the elementary teacher in tears when one of “her kids” is graduating, or the high school student who volunteers back at an elementary just to see past teachers and help our newest Redskins are all inspiring examples of the connection between our students and our amazing teachers. Of course it isn’t just our teachers who are amazing and appreciated. We have a great support staff taking care of so many essential functions that keep the district running. From child nutrition making sure healthy food is available to operations making sure our grounds and buildings are safe and maintained and from human resources to EDP, every job at Union is important, necessary, and appreciated. It takes everyone working the right way, the “Union Way” to make our district a great functioning team that graduates well-rounded, college and career ready young adults.
The “Union Way” is to persevere and put our students first. We are not going to let our students suffer because legislators can’t see the value in what we do. We know we make a difference and no one can take that away. While we fight a constant battle for classroom funding, you are forced to deal with crowded classrooms. While we fight a battle to reduce testing, you have to deal with the stress of now having those testing statistics directly tied to your teaching certificate while still aiming to graduate well-rounded students who haven’t just been taught to a test. And what do you do? YOU excel! You take these challenges and you rise above them, and you put the student at the forefront of everything you do because that is why we are here. No one can keep a good team down no matter how many words are slung or how many obstacles are thrown. Union is most definitely a good team to be on! Again I will say that I am SO proud to be a part of this district and to be a part of the greatness we are creating within each and every student who walks through our doors.
Thank you for believing in and promoting the right way, the “Union Way” and for everything you do each and every day!
District News Archive