‘Signs’ are there to be read

A recent out-of-state visitor to our county noted to me that he had never seen open opposition to a local school levy until driving through Elkins. “The signs seem to reflect an attitude,” he continued. “You may be right, and after the election these signs are stored away until the next levy election, then reposted in the same places,” I replied.

There are many kinds of signs to see if one knows where to look. These signs are not all painted on plywood for easy recognition. To see these signs, people do not have to improve their physical vision, but with improved and insightful emotional vision of perception from the heart, and critical thinking, reading the signs weaves seemingly unrelated observations into a significant tapestry of human moral imperatives. Reading the signs is a necessary quality to be a visionary: a seemingly underrated leadership characteristic by some in Randolph County.

“For a true visionary, today started yesterday.” — Lounsbrough, Craig D. True words like these tell a tale in Randolph County about our schools our educators know all too well. What steps are necessary for all children to be grade-level readers by the end of third grade? How do we meet the intellectual, emotional, physical, social and psychological needs of all children in an appropriate developmental and timely manner? What fiscal support is needed to prepare students, teachers and parents for life in a 21st century world when the sum total of all human knowledge doubles every day?¹ The signs are there. Can we build for tomorrow through a locally funded, public supported, exemplary school system? Yes, we can!

“The ‘fact’ that it can’t be done is ‘fiction’ for the man or woman with vision.” — Lounsbrough, Craig D,

There are many, many signs telling us that the components of the “effective and thorough” education, guaranteed by our Constitution, are changing at exponential rates. If one chooses to look, these signs are obvious every day: Technology, Global Economy, Internet Communication, Global Personal and Professional Relationships, Mass Media Management, Research, Geo-Political Diversity, Super Sonic Space Travel and Knowledge Sharing. The old systems of analyzing these changing elements cannot keep up. A paradigm shift to expedience is needed to sustain visionary endeavors, analyze the future and help West Virginians find and hold their place on planet Earth. Life “up the holler” is not what it used to be.

The most important first big step to meet the challenges the signs tell us is to develop and support a world class education for all our children. This plan will require the use of all our resources to make it work, including a fiscal resource (excess levy). There is no quick fix. Nobody is going to do this for us — nor should they. The fine folks of Randolph County know well enough how to educate our children for the 21st century without an outside political agenda attached to funding. The only remaining question about effectively educating all our children is why have we not yet done so?

We have seen the signs telling us what to do and what not to do and have failed to see the signs of what we should do, the visionary signs that lead all of us to prosperity. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, improving visionary options for careers, providing motivation to achieve personally and as a group. Too many folks live their lives by these old sayings: “sees the world with blinders, “can’t see beyond the end of their nose,” “can’t see the forest from the trees.” These old sayings describe emotional human characteristics that feed only the management theories of what was or is, not what needs to be: a “sign” of visionary action.

Voters in Randolph County need to follow their internal compasses about the levy which point to the often hidden, but imperative emotional signs. These emotional signs speak to us about what kind of future is possible for our children with a forward moving education system.

Some signs (not so nice), abound, telling us what, who, where, when and why. Our hearts tend to read around signs in a manner portrayed in lyrics by Five Man Electric Band, Canada, 1971:

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

¹ “Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, soon to be Every 12 Hours”. By David Russell Schilling, April 19, 2013

Robert Dunkerley, BA Mus Ed, MA EDLS (WVU) is a retired educator from West Virginia with 34 years experience. He resides in Elkins, with his wife, Karen, also a retired educator. Together they run Helianthus LLC, an Arts Advocacy and Education Consulting group from their home-based office. They are the proud parents of son Ryan and daughter-in-law Erin and their new baby granddaughter Nova Rae.