Message from the Superintendent

We are all learners; that includes me. Over the last two months, I have been trying to learn as much about York Suburban as possible. I already knew about the strong academic achievements of YSSD students, so there was less to learn about that. My challenge was and continues to be, to learn about the York Suburban culture, often referred to as the Suburban Way.

I was once a student of Anthropology; culture interests me. From those studies, I learned that culture morphs over time. Successful societies hold on to traditions that strengthen the community and adopt new aspects that enrich society. Our York Suburban school community now has an opportunity to do that very thing: we should celebrate our history without being beholden to it.

We have great traditions of which to be proud, and we also have an opportunity to build some new ones. Our rich academic heritage has produced students well-prepared for traditional four-year colleges, and we have the ability to offer strong vocational training via the York County School of Technology (YCST). The real question is whether or not that approach meets all of our students’ needs. In short, public schools – and some parents of public school students like me – have not always done well in preparing all students for life after high school.

This notion is based on my experience raising three children who are now in their early 20s. Two of them are nearing the conclusion of their bachelor’s degrees at great colleges in preparation for graduate schools. The third child decided that college was not for him and now is gainfully employed in the production industry. At first, it was difficult for me to grapple with the concept of having a child who has not at least earned a bachelor’s degree. But, watching him become a happier, productive citizen has made me realize that college was not the best thing for him. In that sense, I failed him initially.

Surely, we all want what is best for our students. Sometimes our preconceived ideas of what is best for kids is based on inaccurate assumptions like mine were for my own children; I had a preconceived idea that college was the only answer for my own children. How often do other parents have those same preconceived ideas?

A large aspect of the Suburban Way seems to be preparation for college success. Of course, we will continue to emphasize and improve on that, but we must also improve the way we meet the needs of those who are not going to college.

Culturally, we need to reflect on the Suburban Way. Does our culture take into account how best to prepare ALL of our students for life after high school? Or does it only work to send most of our students to good colleges? As an educational institution, perhaps we need to place a renewed emphasis on that middle section of students who are not destined for traditional four-year colleges or who are not going to attend the YCST. We need to consider how best to meet the needs of those students who may head to a career that does not require a four-year degree or a YCST program.

I was pleased to learn that these types of conversations have been taking place over the last year, and you should expect to hear more on this topic. Our culture certainly needs to hold on to the traditions that strengthen us, but it also must embrace new traditions that make our school community stronger. I look forward to working with you in determining how the Suburban Way evolves.