ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- “In most cases, the days of being able to graduate from high school and go straight to a profession are behind us,” said Elmsford Union Free School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Ricca.
His remarks about the changing economy and how to prepare students for the job market came at the first of a three-part district initiative called "Coffee & Conversation."
The community-centered conversations will help officials "take the pulse" from parents and community members on district-level school issues and other concerns.
Participants at the hour-long meeting were asked for their opinions on the purpose of education.
Some felt it should not only be about learning, but also about being innovative, instilling curiosity in students, character building and preparing them for society, the release said.
“We cannot understate the importance that your influence has on your child’s success. You’re their first teachers, really providing the core around which all formal education develops,” said Ricca.
He suggested education needs to focus on skills that are applicable to the 21st century in terms of jobs.
“The jobs of our parents are falling away, and while innovation makes things easier for us in so many ways, the paradigm of what is expected of students as they transition into the job market is also changing,” he said.
Referring to student success, Ricca wondered what that might mean for the district’s children.
One parent said success meant having a happy child, one who tried no matter what, who put forth his or her best effort and who persevered.
“I think as a society we have created an expectation for perfection within our schools, and as a result many of our kids are afraid of failure. This must change” said Ricca. "Authentic education should be about extending yourself, trying new things, taking academic risks and not being afraid to fail.”
Topics included the district’s language program, legislative advocacy efforts for funding reform, and standardized testing and teacher evaluations.
The next “Coffee and Conversation” meeting will be held Wednesday, Jan. 11.