Thursday September 01, 2011
“My name is David Young, and I am proud to be standing before you as your Superintendent.” David Young’s opening statement at the South Burlington School District’s August 25th convocation brought a standing ovation. In his inaugural address, Young focused on the three principles that he hopes will guide his administration: Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor. He used his life story to illustrate how those three Rs can enhance education’s more traditional three Rs of Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.
Young grew up in Burlington’s “New North End,” the third of four children. His mother, raised in Rutland, was a registered nurse; his father worked for the Burlington Electric Department (BED), serving the last 15 of his 30 years with BED as General Manager.
Community service was always a given in Young’s family. His father, for example, reconstructed Centennial Field’s lights, increased the power of Mt. Mansfield’s transmitter, and erected lights at the Burlington High School sports fields. Young says he “rarely left [his] dad’s side, listening and learning all the way.”
With the help of two especially dedicated grade school teachers (Mrs. Hamlin and Mr. Hadley), Young overcame early reading difficulties and became more confident and motivated to learn. He majored in education at Norwich University and was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), committed to serve in the Army for six years. While in the military, he developed strong relationships with the soldiers he supervised, and he helped some of them with their reading difficulties.
Following his military tenure, Young got married and obtained his Master’s degree in Education Administration from Norwich. With his graduate degree, he became a health teacher in Fairfax, at the same time coaching cross-country running, basketball, and track. He gradually moved up the administrative ladder, serving as Georgia Elementary School’s principal for a decade, and then becoming South Burlington’s Assistant Superintendent for Operations in 2005.
“I believe that creating trusting relationships is critical to advancing our work with students and one another,” Young underscored at the convocation: “For me, it was Mrs. Hamlin helping me to become a better reader and Mr. Hadley connecting with me and believing in me.”
In addition, Young emphasized that education must be relevant: “Being mindful of drawing parallels between what we are teaching and real-world applications is important.” Young stressed that applying his knowledge to practical hands-on activities and projects with his father was crucial to his learning.
What about Young’s third R? “Rigor,” Young pointed out, “is not synonymous with ‘difficult’ or ‘hard,’ but more about stretching a student to move beyond his or her current ‘comfort zone’ in order to grow as an independent learner.”
Young concluded his convocation speech by expressing how excited he is to be South Burlington’s Superintendent of Schools and how hopeful he is that the principles of Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor can gird and guide the District’s educational efforts.
SOURCE: Bill Wargo, Correspondent