January is a special month for all. After a much-deserved break spent with family and friends, our hard-working teachers and students return to school invigorated to start the new year. Everyone can see the promise of a finish line in the distance. It’s thrilling to hear students talk about their plans for the new year.

High school seniors tell me how they look forward to Spring graduation and contemplate their futures. They share the colleges they hope to attend or talk enthusiastically about enrolling in a trade school or earning a certification from one of our CTE courses. Eighth graders and parents like to discuss our high school academies, dual enrollment, and other programs our district has to offer. Elementary students, well, they gush about what they did during the holiday and tell the funniest stories. Our fifth graders, however, are curious about middle school, and I reassure parents that the transition will be okay.

During those conversations, I usually ask students why they’re interested in a certain subject area, and they often name a teacher who ignited their interest. At times, they describe their teacher as if they have Marvel-like superhero qualities. I get to see their excitement as they describe how their teacher transformed a subject into something amazing and opened a world of possibilities for the student.

Recently there’s been media coverage on Luke Delaney, one of ten candidates selected for NASA’s astronaut program. Delaney is a former student who graduated in 1997 from Deltona High School, right here in Volusia County. In an interview, he credited his math teacher, Ms. Johnnie Ebbert who instilled in him a love for math and its application to the real world. Ms. Ebbert retired from Volusia County Schools several years ago but was overjoyed to learn how she impacted a student’s life.

One of the perks of being a school board member is that I often hear other success stories from former students. It’s satisfying to know that we have a team of dedicated teachers who truly touch the lives of students and impact their futures.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. Let’s continue to work together to make this a year filled with exciting opportunities for our children.


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