Creating Lifelong Interests

Type: Article
Topics: School Administrator Magazine

March 31, 2023


“Catch me in the starting lineup.” Max Christie, a second-round draft pick at No. 35 in the 2022 National Basketball Association player draft, had his first professional start this past Jan. 9 when approximately 40 minutes before game time, he received word he would be filling in for one of three injured players on the Los Angeles Lakers, including Lebron James.

Like many players playing a sport from middle school on up, the first thing he did was to text his mom to let his parents know he would be in the starting lineup. Max is only 19 years old.

Max and his younger brother, who is a senior at Rolling Meadows High School in School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Ill., my former district, are standout basketball players. More importantly, they are kind and well-rounded students and outstanding individuals who work hard on and off the court.

While many high school athletes have dreams of reaching the professional level in their respective sport, for basketball, boys have a .03 percent chance of making it to the professional level, and girls have a .02 percent chance of being drafted, according to the NCAA.

Lasting Effects

Beyond hoop dreams, interscholastic sports and extracurricular activities serve a critical role in developing students to become productive members of society. Students involved in athletics and activities have the opportunity to develop new skills, gain confidence, discover new interests and passions, serve as a member of a team and develop lifelong interests that will serve them well beyond their high school years.

Interscholastic sports and other activities are a key element of developing an educational system that meets the “whole learner” needs of students. When we launched the Redefining Ready! Initiative through AASA, we specifically included a research-based indicator regarding involvement in two or more co-curricular activities as part of the career-ready indicators because we know the relationship orchestra students have with their conductor or a coach has with an athlete more often can reflect the relationship between an employer and employee than that of a teacher to student. Students voluntarily sign up, need to show up on time and be ready to work hard at their respective discipline.

Taking a broader look at opportunities for students, we find school districts nationwide have used their natural surroundings to provide sports and clubs. From surfing to snow skiing and rock climbing clubs and teams, districts have found innovative ways to engage students and present unique opportunities to those schools and communities.

When I was in high school in Wisconsin, I played tennis, and as a teacher, I coached several sports and was an adviser to several clubs. I believe that sports, clubs and activities are a crucial part of the educational experience ensuring all students feel a sense of belonging and a connectedness to their school community.

Our theme at the National Conference on Education in February was Live Well, Lead Well. We must model for our students that creating balance within our own lives to engage in enjoyable wellness activities is necessary to our success as individuals and education leaders.

#Here for the Kids

Last October, the Learning First Alliance launched a new campaign, “Here for the Kids,” which focuses on highlighting the positive stories of impact in public education. The campaign is an opportunity to focus on the stories that may go unnoticed by our national news media or our local community and to highlight the successful programs and practices that advance student well-being and learning.

The alliance has created a communications toolkit and additional resources. I encourage you to review these resources and to share your highlights using #HerefortheKids on social media.

We need to focus the conversations around public education on what is best for the students and share why we are all here for the kids.

AASA’s Online Home

In February, AASA launched our new online professional home for educational leaders with an overhauled website that makes information more accessible for our members and those seeking information about our association. The four main areas of Professional Learning, Resources, Advocacy and Membership enable you to efficiently find what you need.

Let us know what you think of the new design and if there are ways we can improve your experience with our new online home.

Be well, my friends!

David Schuler is AASA’s executive director. Twitter: @AASA_ED