, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur

October 30, 2013

Superintendent Talk: 5-year-old shows the right path

PORT ARTHUR — On the evening of Thursday, October 19, the Port Arthur Independent School District Board of Trustees bestowed upon me the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to continue to work with some of the most incredible people in the United States of America, the young men and women in the PAISD and their parents/guardians.  

The Board of Trustees agreed that we would work side by side in order to strengthen the educational system of the Port Arthur Independent School District.  I want to once again thank the board and the citizens of Port Arthur for the support shown to me and my family over the years.  I appreciate the fact that the Board of Trustees has the confidence in me to allow me to work with the community in an effort to make decisions that will impact the lives of thousands of children in our community.  I want to thank every adult from the time of my birth to the present that thought enough of me to take me aside and give me sound advice along the way.  

There were, and still are, people who cared enough about me to redirect and put me back on the right path, and I thank God for giving me the good sense to listen.  I believe that we all have choices, and I am thankful that I chose to make my home here in Port Arthur.  

I am excited and ready to work with the entire city to make our school system what we all know it can be.  In order to do that, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves, remove the chip off of our shoulders, be able to accept corrective criticism, think differently than we have been programmed to think, accept that no one person has all of the answers and, most of all, believe in the vision we have for our community and the children.

When change starts to happen, sometimes the comfort zones of individuals are disrupted and, as we all know, we do not like our comfort zones to be impacted.  I can say this because I am from Port Arthur; we all have our beliefs and we all have our favorites and sometimes our favorites are affected by the change.  Knowing the history of why some things have happened is beneficial to understanding where we are now, BUT it must not affect the change that has to occur for us to move forward.

An incident came to my attention this past Wednesday that sent a message to me that the students of the Port Arthur Independent School District and our entire community are on the right track.  As you are aware, the PAISD has enforced the rule that no hoodies be worn in the schools.  That rule has caused many great conversations with students and parents and we would like to thank the parents for working with us, and the PAISD employees for communicating and working with parents.

On Wednesday morning, one of our kindergarten students by the name of Jaedyn woke up and got ready for school.  On this particular day it was cool outside and Jaedyn's grandmother wanted him to put on a jacket that had a hood attached to it.  Jaedyn refused to put the jacket on because he had been told by hhis teacher and understood the rule of no hoodies on campus.  His grandmother was insistent that he wear the hoodie and Jaedyn complied with his grandmother's wishes, but he proceeded to insist that she tuck the hood down inside the neck of the jacket.

His grandmother requested a meeting with the principal and eventually came to the administration building to meet with me to show me the jacket for clarity and, indeed, it was a hoodie.  I want you to understand that at that point it was not about the hoodie; it was about a young 5-year old student who knew what the rules were and chose not to break those rules.  Even though his grandmother was telling him to do something that he felt was incorrect, he had enough pride in himself and enough courage to verbally express his thoughts.  

I want to commend his grandmother for raising her grandson to respect the rules of his school and community.  This is one of many students in the PAISD who are making right choices and that want to be successful in their lives.  Yes, we have a ways to go to reach the goals we have set for ourselves here in PAISD, but as long as there are students like Jaedyn, parents and grandparents like Jaedyn's grandmother, and teachers and employees of the PAISD who care and want our community to change, there is no way we can fail.

There are those who have come and are ready to work with our children to assist wherever and whenever they can.  Why don’t you join us in this effort to move forward in a direction of excellence?  I guarantee that if you have a desire to work with us, we have a place for you.  It does not matter if your children are grown or if you work 60 hours a week, we have a place and time for you.  

If you are disgruntled about something that has happened, come and get it off of your chest and let us find a way to resolve it.  Every day that passes without your commitment to excellence for our children and community is a day we miss out on what you have to bring to the table.  

If you are not with us, we are a missing piece of the puzzle that keeps us from being complete.  You are a major component to our success; we cannot do this without your support and involvement.

Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District.

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