During the 13 or so years I have been in education, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet a variety of brilliant, inspiring, and caring individuals. One of these individuals is Dr. Jack McGovern. I initially met Jack at the Bucks County, PA Intermediate Unit, as he was the facilitator for a session on using different Vocabulary strategies across content areas. I was lucky enough to really get to know Jack during our work through the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Literacy Network. Jack is a former School District of Philadelphia teacher, former Head Master of Penn Charter, former Director of Curriculum for the Bucks County IU, current adjunct faculty professor at a number of local colleges, was the recipient of the Rose Lindenbaum Award for Excellence in Teaching, and is the current Board Chairman of the Children’s Literacy Initiative. This past summer, Dr. McGovern shared the follow reflections with a group of friends, educators, and colleagues. I hope you enjoy them as much as we all did…
“A Few Things I Know For Sure”
I know for sure that books matter because that’s where wonderful words reside. I know that children need Art and Music the way that plants need water and sunlight and that the best schools are places where, in the words of C.S. Lewis “a child can be surprised by joy.”
I know for sure that books matter because they can offer us alternative lives. I know that language is sacred and that every child should have an extra large portion of E.B. White, Shakespeare and Langston Hughes and that we need and deserve poetry every day.
I now for sure that books matter because they can build cognitive capital. I know that our children need to learn that smart is not something you are but something you can become and that they did have a right to experience what Richard Feynman called “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.”
I know for sure that books matter because they show us what courage looks like. I know that if their life at home is Hell than school should be like Heaven, and enrichment trumps remediation and that we must always overestimate our students.
And I also know for sure that teachers make a difference, they always have and they always will and that we should never be afraid of doing good.