DR. MARK PORTERIE — We must motivate, educate future generations and never lose hope

Published 12:06 am Saturday, September 3, 2022

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to not have hope?

The definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Without hope, it would be impossible to wake up each morning and face this world.

As we read articles about what is happening in the world or watch news stories about what is happening locally and across our country, it would not be surprising that some may question hope for tomorrow.

Dr. Mark L. Porterie,
superintendent of schools

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PAISD has some exciting news to share that will restore hope in our future! More than 8,100 wonderful, beautiful, smart, intelligent, energized, creative, witty, bold – and sometiEmes a little bit nervous – students returned to the Port Arthur Independent School District in the past three weeks.

Some of them may even be a bit rude and a tad confused, but they are all our children, no matter what they bring to the PAISD family; and we have HOPE for each one of them.

When children are among us, they bring a sense of excitement and joy. If you ever just sit and talk to a child, I assure you within the conversation, you will want to laugh, maybe feel a little perplexed and maybe even learn a little bit about what is happening in the world in which we are living from the eyes of a child.

Have you ever wondered where the expression “out of the mouths of babes” came from?

Well, this expression is a shortened and revised form of passages from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. In Psalms 8:2, God ordains strength out of the mouth of babes and sucklings; in Matthew 21:16, praise comes from this source. Later generations changed the words “strength” and “praise” to “wisdom.”

When speaking with children, they have some of the most amazing thought patterns, responses and reasoning. Maybe I am amazed because of the teaching that I received over 50 years ago. I have to admit, I am a huge fan of the teaching of my generation.

Our teaching came from the experience and wisdom of our parents and how they were raised; and I am sure we raised our children based on our own experiences.

When I marvel at this new generation that we currently have in our schools, Generation Z and Generation Alpha, I realize I can’t necessarily hold a lot of meaning in how we identify ourselves; we can’t discount that world events, technological advancements and evolving social developments influence our personal experiences and can shape the mentalities and attitudes we possess as adults.

So, understanding these nuances can help us communicate and relate to people from different age groups.

As I look at my generation, Generation X – the “Baby Busters” – I can understand why I am a re-actionist, a little rebellious, self-reliant and a little mistrustful, because that was the environment between the years 1965-1980.

Is any generation better than the other?

You may think so of the generation that you belong to, but not really. We are all humans with a set of norms and realities. The thing to watch, and what I feel most interesting, is how our two current generations are going to change the world we are living in today.

Generation Z and Generation Alpha are more racially and ethnically diverse, better educated and far more familiar with non-heteronormative identities than previous generations. Z and Alpha also face higher economic inequality than previous generations, and this is something that our country is currently fighting.

No matter what we think about the generations before us, or the ones coming after us, the one thing we have to come to grips with is that we have to learn how to get along with everyone, no matter our differences, and accept the current and future generations for who they are and will become.

We must never give up motivating and guiding the path they are on as they figure out how they will lead our world in the future.

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