MARK PORTERIE — Port Arthur ISD starts 2022 with much to appreciate

Published 12:40 am Friday, December 31, 2021

The Port Arthur Independent School District welcomes 2022 with excitement, anticipation and much hope. At this time each year, New Year’s Resolutions are being considered, and a great deal of positive expectations for the future surround us.

Over the last 21 and a half months, we have seen major changes across the world, our country, this state and here locally. Some changes were not so bad and some were quite perplexing.

The strength that has been shown within our school district has been pretty amazing. Our employees have stepped up in all areas of addressing the educational needs of the whole child and are meeting the challenges we keep incurring.

Dr. Mark L. Porterie,
superintendent of schools

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After more than a year of being charged with the task of providing effective and engaging learning environments, our students have finally begun to be more committed to the lessons they are being taught.

We concluded our Fall semester Dec. 17, and it was a WIN for us all. As we reflect over the first semester, we can appreciate what we have accomplished.

Were all decisions that we made 100 percent accurate? Absolutely not. However, I will say that all decisions were made with the highest intentions for the well-being of our employees and students.

We also have to give a huge shout out to our parents who have assisted us in the transition from home to school. It has not been easy for our parents to juggle work, home and virtually educating children for an entire year, but they have shown sincere dedication to their children’s education.

With all of the challenges we have encountered, the one thing that makes us optimistic about the future is when we experience the joy, triumphs and progression of children. The next time you are in the presence of a child/children, just sit back and observe them when they are not texting or playing a technology game.

Take note of how they interact with one another, the conversations they are having, and the way they now view life. Honestly, I must admit it does take time for me to digest some of the nuances our young people exhibit today.

I have a tendency, at times, to reflect back to how I was raised and the values that were set for me and my contemporaries some time ago. However, I try very hard to understand the differences of our young children as compared to yesteryears.

Today’s youth communicate mostly through electronic devices and they seem to abbreviate their concerns. They are quick to say – or not say – anything. Whereas, in the past, we sat and discussed life eye-to-eye.

It also appears there was a deeper appreciation of history than what we are experiencing now. Many of our youth may not understand the importance of understanding the meaning of the American Revolution or how a city differs from a state.

I have witnessed this generation withstand challenges that I am not sure how I would have handled at an earlier age. I admire the grit, humor and, most of all, the honesty our children exhibit. It is welcoming.

My hope for the New Year is layered. I hope we can find a way to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. I hope humanity finally finds a way to begin to look at others who do not look like them with a sense of respect.

I hope people take time to plan for their future and those who lost jobs are able to return to work. I truly want parents to begin dreaming of an independent life for their children who will someday venture out into the world on their own.

I want them to desire the same success for their children–our students–as we do.

I pray for violence in schools everywhere to STOP, for people to be able to pass by one another and smile without the other person feeling assaulted. I want people to be able to give a compliment to someone without it being misconstrued as a negative encounter.

I hope students grow to appreciate the love of reading; I want them to be able to walk in their neighborhood and feel safe. I want adults to be able to redirect a child because they care about the future of our world, without parents interpreting the redirection as if you are abusing their child.

I want everyone to have a positive outlook on the state of our country.

All of the above is possible if we start by taking a deep breath; and as we slowly exhale, we think about how our next action will affect the people around us. Then we smile, knowing we are about to make a positive choice and move forward with love.

On behalf of the Port Arthur Independent School District Board of Trustees, staff, students, and yours truly, we would like to wish everyone a safe and peaceful New Year.

Dr. Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District. He can be reached at mporterie@paisd.org.