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Unedited & Written by John Kuhn

The MWISD school year is underway. This year we have over 3,200 students learning in-person. 

Many folks continue to be rightfully concerned about COVID-19. The virus is present in our community, and it will be present in our schools. That isn’t what any of us wants to hear, but the reality in our buildings could be much worse than it is right now. As of this writing, our COVID-19 positive caseload is 1.8% of our in-person population (students and staff). That’s comparable to last year’s positivity rate for much of the fall and winter (though cases dropped to very low numbers last spring). 

As for this year, the number of active cases among MWISD staff has declined every day since August 23, from a high of 45 positives to today’s total of 20 (as of this writing on September 2). (Side note: once a person tests positive, they stay on our actives list for at least 10 days while they self-isolate.) With students, our number of active positives is currently at 49. I’m hopeful we are near the peak in student cases; I say this because the rate of growth in new cases among new students has slowed significantly. We added 2 new cases today, versus 13 new cases a couple of days ago and 5 yesterday. The declining pace of new additions to our active-COVID roster is a good sign, I believe.

At the same time, I understand that this tentative good news can change with a single outbreak, and I would ask that readers understand that as well.

I don’t want anyone to think that COVID-19 is the center of the universe at MWISD, however. We are back in school, in the fullest sense of the word. Our extracurricular activities are in full effect, and our teachers and students have hit their stride in the classroom. 

Great things are happening in MWISD. Student enrollment grew every single day during the first two weeks of school. A new ag barn is going up east of the high school, and Homecoming festivities are underway as I write this column. This school year, MWISD dropped its tax rate by more than 10 cents per $100 valuation, and we are raising pay for all employees. We also used ESSER III grant funds from the federal government to shrink class sizes as a part of our ongoing efforts to improve teaching and learning. The average MWISD class size is smaller than the state average for every grade level from Pre-K through 12th grade. This will help teachers give more one-on-one attention to your child, and—along with our highly competitive pay scale—will help us keep great teachers in Mineral Wells ISD classrooms. 

If we learned anything from the lengthy school closure during the spring of 2020, it’s that learning—in-person, face-to-face learning, from a real-live teacher—is a precious gift, and it is in my opinion the most effective way most people learn. We are so happy to have our students back in our classrooms.

I want to end today’s column with the story of a new student to MWISD. She arrived home recently and told her mom that the teachers at her new school are crazy because they are telling her that every letter has a name, and every letter can talk. 

“Letters can’t talk!” she told her mom.

I’m so glad we have crazy teachers like this one here in the home of Crazy Water. This little girl’s teacher caught her attention and activated her sense of wonder by saying that letters can talk, and in doing so, she got across to a tiny little girl an extremely fundamental point about how reading works. 

I hope that this little girl spends a lifetime letting letters talk to her. I hope the letters in the US Constitution talk to her, and the letters in MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The same goes for the letters on contracts she is asked to sign someday, or on job offers, or on rental agreements. I hope we teach her to read and think and do mathematical operations so well that she can never be tricked or swindled by anyone, ever. I hope she leaves our school system as a master of language, and of numbers, of logic and reasoning, of ethics and morals, of citizenship and character, of personal responsibility, of compassion, and of work ethic. I hope that the teachers she has in MWISD work as equal partners with her parents to ensure that her formation from child to adult doesn’t leave a single gap or weak spot. Because we adults know that life will test her. We want strong women and strong men, and good women and good men, and smart women and smart men, and brave women and brave men to be the legacy of Mineral Wells ISD. Nothing less will suffice. We owe this to the future because the past was good to us.

This work we do as teachers (and coaches and librarians and band directors and club sponsors and administrators and lunch workers and bus drivers and custodians and maintenance workers and counselors and school psychologists and diagnosticians and technology hands and school resource officers) is more than just important. It’s more than life-changing, even. 

It’s world-changing, and I’m here for it. 

We will soon be publishing The Leaders of Mineral Wells page on our website where influential people within Mineral Wells will share their thoughts and opinions on topics pertaining to their professions. More details to come soon.


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