On my desk sits a metal paperweight of a quarter moon with the inscription, “Dreams are necessary to life.” This was given to me by a former student as a thank you gift for being his principal and reminds me of what educators instill in students throughout the school year - dreams.
As children, we all have wonderful dreams about what it will be like in the future for ourselves and the world. Many dream big, while others may have smaller ideas, but all children envision a future that is bright, bold, and better than what we know. As we grow older, some dreams change, and some may even fade away, but the idea of how things could be may still smolder inside all of us.
The Founding Fathers had a dream of uniting the 13 colonies into one American nation. President Lincoln dreamed of uniting that same divided nation. And in 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King dreamt:
So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
Each of the Montville Township Public Schools’ students have their own individual dreams. These dreams evolve and grow as they learn new ideas and concepts in school. Classroom lessons foster the building blocks for future careers and pursuits. Each student’s dreams will change the world in small or large ways.
Most of the time, a childhood dream is influenced by an adult. These adults can be a parent, religious leader, coach, mentor, or teacher. If one thinks about the top five people, aside from a family member, who influenced their life, there is a good chance that a teacher will make that list.
This inspiration happens in all subject areas. In elementary school, students have their first opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Getting a harmonious sound to come out seems like an incredible achievement, but that is just the beginning. In middle school, students select a world language that exposes them to new words and cultures. This foundation is then built upon in the later years. In high school, students choose electives that are of interest, which inspires them to further embrace the possibilities for the future.
However, while on the path of growth, sometimes people take three steps forward and two steps back. The road to fulfilling one’s dreams is not an easy one. The Founding Fathers, President Lincoln, and Dr. Martin Luther King all faced impossible challenges. They dealt with distrust of new ideas, a lack of understanding, and a resistance to change. So it goes with all dreams small and large. Similarly, it is how a student responds to a challenge that makes all the difference. Typically, it is the dream that one is focused upon that gives strength to overcome a setback or the hearing of the word “no.”
School is a place where children are given the skills, knowledge, and experiences that help them work toward their dreams. English teachers develop students into better readers and writers, science teachers push students to experiment and prove hypotheses, and physical education teachers challenge students to be better and healthier versions of themselves. The school curricula challenge students to think critically, collaborate, create, and communicate.
Students are asked to take risks and, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Students may stumble and even fail, but it is by trying and learning from mistakes and failures that they truly begin to grow. This is when they foster ideas that are outside the box. By having a “growth mindset” they develop resiliency and are stronger for what is to come next in their lives.
The Founding Fathers, Lincoln, and King all had dreams of a brighter and different future. So, too, do all students. Dreams become reality through education, hard work, focus, and determination. Dreamers who put their ideas into action become creators, inventors, scientists, artists, and agents of change. As Eleanor Roosevelt commented, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of dreams.”
-February 22, 2023
The "Superintendent's Column,"
by Dr. Thomas A. Gorman also appears in
"The Citizen" newspaper and on-line at "MontvilleTAP"