Being a former school administrator myself, I knew from things my grandson told me last year as well as from my own observations, that our local West Plains High School is a standout when it comes to academic experiences. That personal opinion was validated this week when the venerable U.S. News and World Report published its annual list of top-performing high schools across the United States - and West Plains was listed in the twenty-five best high schools in Missouri
The other schools from southern Missouri to make the prestigious cut were Central High School in Springfield, Monett High School, and Webb City High School.
I have always felt like good schools have four essential elements. The first is bold governance, a board and administration capable of looking to the future and standing up to the restraints that some elements of the community invariably try to foist upon education.
It is the governance element that selects and hires the second essential component of good schools: the teaching staff. Good teachers are well versed in their subject matter, imaginative and innovative in their approach to teaching, and skilled in communicating effectively with students. Good teachers are dedicated to the success of their students - yet sadly they are more often than not over-worked and under-paid.
Parents and the local community form the third element of public school education. They are the ones who instill in young people a desire to learn and experience the wonders of school. The major portion of school funding comes from local taxes, and without public support of a tax rate that will sustain good schools, education is doomed to wither.
And finally, the students themselves are the absolute core of a good school. If they have grown up in a family and a community that values education, they will usually enter school predisposed to benefiting from the experience. Good students make good schools.
Congratulations Zizzers - for being among the best of the best. We are proud of you!