This past weekend I joined a couple of dozen colleagues from around the state for a two-day training for parliamentarians. Fun, actually–you know, parliamentary jokes and all.
Like most presidents of labor and civic groups, I found familiarity with parliamentary procedure to be essential. (And yes, I think it will be useful on the State Board of Education.) By the time I needed it as a union leader, I had already learned some of it in high school: not in a class, but in a club. And so this weekend’s course got me thinking (again) about the importance of extracurricular activities.
I was an inconsistent student, eager to explore things that interested me and happy to ignore those that didn’t. I spent far more time on my school’s extensive program of extracurriculars than on my classes. The lessons of those extracurricular activities continue to enrich my life today.
- My high school’s chorus needed an organist–later in college I accompanied the Glee Club, and I’ve spent years as a part-time church organist and choir director.
- The chorus had room for an extra baritone–I’m still a cantor.
- The school had a TV station, and I learned about focus, aperture, exposure, and composition–later I photographed sports and news for my college newspaper, and I still cover events for my job today.
- Speech and debate activities helped me to overcome stage fright and learn how to deliver a persuasive argument.
- Editing a school newspaper section awakened a love of words that I’ve carried through my life, especially in my career as an English teacher.
- The director of a school musical needed me in the orchestra–later, as a teacher, I directed over 35 plays at three different schools.
- For the school’s Political Science Club (sure, we had one–after all, it was the sixties), I interviewed politicians, volunteered for campaigns–and bought my first Robert’s Rules of Order. And for nearly forty years, I’ve served groups all over the state as a parliamentarian.
The takeaway? One of the most important things schools should do is help students learn what they love and what they’re good at. I am extremely fortunate that I had the opportunity to try my wings at so many things while I was in school, and I want to make sure that Ohio’s kids still have those kinds of opportunities.
This post originally appeared on the website of my 2016 campaign for State Board of Education, http://bill4board.us.