For more than 30 years there has been a decline in the qualifications that prospective employees bring to the workplace. The business community has voiced its concern with the work ethic of high school graduates throughout America and Payson is no exception; but maybe it could be.
On March 25th 2002 the Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) was formed.
In January 2005 with a grant from the federal government, ABEC piloted the Arizona Academic Scholars Program (AASP) in five high schools across Arizona. With the approval of the Payson Unified School District Board (PUSD) in partnership with the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) Payson became one of the initial five school districts. For the past two years, federal grant money along with very generous support from Wells Fargo Bank, Payson High School graduates were recognized with a token of recognition for meeting the requirements to be Arizona Academic Scholars.
The true value of having completed the AASP rigorous course of study, however, is in the success these students will experience throughout their lives.
Unfortunately the value of being an Arizona Academic Scholar is not firmly embedded in the minds or understood by the students and members of the Payson Community. This is what we, as a community, can work together to change.
Don Crowley's article in the June 26 issue of the Payson Roundup focuses on this very issue. Employees across all industries will be more productive and successful when they possess the basic knowledge and skills that are essential in all capacities of life. Possessing knowledge about who we are and our interests along with the "Survival Skills" Don mentions are essential to finding those careers that provide us with personal satisfaction and financial success.
"Ask not, what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, January 20, 1961
Regardless of your political affiliation, this quote conveys a very valuable message. If we have a great nation, we will have a great quality of life. I like to think that this message applies to our educational system as well. In order for our future quality of life to be secure and pleasurable, we need to properly prepare our children and our children's children for the challenges they will face throughout the world.
We expect the school system to provide the curriculum that will prepare our children for their future challenges. The question is, ‘Who is expected to instill the desire to learn?' Not just to go to school, but to learn what is necessary to be successful contributing members of the future worldwide society. The future economic environment will continue to place ever higher expectations on the careers of our high school graduates. The education system includes all of us at all stages of life.
During this past summer, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Payson Unified School District accepted my offer to be the Payson Coordinator for the Arizona Academic Scholars Program; as the coordinator, I ask the Payson community to join with me in creating a vision for our students. Start now, talking with all children about their future and what they would like to be when they are on their own. Help them develop a plan to achieve their career goals. Encourage them to attend school to learn and prepare for their future. After all, the quality of your future will be in the hands of these young impressionable people.
If you would like more information about the Arizona Academic Scholars Program, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.