Education Corner: Richard Womack, Ed.D

24 August 2015

When I asked Mr. Bill Jaynes, our editor for some space to do a little column called Education Corner he asked a typical and professional editor's question. I paraphrase but something like—What about education will the readers find hidden in this corner? I could only say the column would not be a "dark corner".
I told Editor Jaynes that I had written a column using the same header "Education Corner" (EC) years back but the old EC was written as a Professor of Education at COM-FSM. I related to Mr. Jaynes that I wrote at that time about issues such as improving our college student learning and specifically about matters about improving the learning of our future teachers. I admitted I had always written to the public by providing information about improvements we were making at COM-FSM or planning to make at the college. I also discussed certain problems or challenges our college was facing at that time. There was nothing wrong with that approach and EC presented the most accurate and best information available. After all, providing information is part of teaching and understanding information part of learning. We have all been through some formal education and the community understands this. I told Mr. Jaynes that this new EC would focus on one thing and one thing only— improving learning in Pohnpei Elementary Schools and that alone would cover many months of bi-weekly editions of Kaselehlie Press.
Also in the old EC the education issues were quite broad and EC did not ask for or solicit information or feedback from the reading audience. In fact, there was no way of even knowing if there was a reading audience. When I wrote EC I felt as if I was delivering a lecture or a speech or almost preaching to the community. There was no way to tell if the community was listening. In many ways the old EC went against something I say to teachers: "If you want to learn something, try talking with your students. Teaching and learning is not about talking and listening. Teaching is not about talking at or to your students and learning magically occurs by listening to the teacher. Teachers need to engage students and make them part of the learning. In the end you, the teacher, will be surprised what you too will learn". The old EC never left any homework for the community. This new EC will certainly speak about this idea in the months ahead and the community will always have a little homework.
So with that said I told Mr. Jaynes that this time around I wanted to do the EC in a different way. I told him that I was no longer with the college but with a group called Womack and Associates (2015). I proposed that EC could use the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. address and interact with the public in a more personal yet still professional manner. EC would still provide accurate information on education needs and areas in need of improvement to the community but this time around EC would involve the community and show the community how they may help. Helping Pohnpei students improve is everyone's job. Being sure teachers are improving so they better serve our students is everyone's business. Helping the school principal improve teachers so teachers can help improve student learning is everyone's concern. In short helping with improving education for Pohnpei elementary school students should be at the front of everyone's mind. It is the only issue on the collective mind of Womack and Associates (2015). It is why the Associates have joined together.
So to help with this improvement process EC will focus on written documents that demand community participation. The first sets of "paper" are FSM Accreditation reports on every school in Pohnpei. These outline very specific strength and weaknesses of each school and give each school an accreditation rating. When schools are showing the environment for learning has improved they may better the rating. But, and most importantly, the FSM Accreditation is really focused on increasing student learning. When a school shows student learning is improving that is the real key. A school's community need never worry about accreditation when student learning is improving. But know this dear community; this improvement means funding and lack of improvement means less funding. Improvement now and preparation for 2023 demands improvement now and it cannot occur with less money. And as readers will find out each issue: Improvement will not occur without community involvement and support
TO: Community
FR: Education Corner
RE: Attendance
HOMEWORK: First look at student attendance. Each school keeps data on Average Daily Attendance or ADA. It is an accreditation factor and improving this will help with ratings. This never means send a sick child to school. We must never do that, but look to see if there are school age children home playing on their property or the streets? Your homework this week is easy. Just look to see. The next EC will offer a few "pointers". If you see lots of school age students at play when they should be in school—there are things that can be done.
Finally next issue will be about the most important tool for improvement –The School Improvement Plan-the SIP. There will be a little homework too but on teacher attendance--
Dr. Richard Womack is the Senior Associate/ Budget Officer with Womack and Associates (2015) a local capacity building business whose purpose was described above and at present are searching for ways to provide Continuing Education for elementary teachers in the sciences and social studies. A further aim of the Associates is providing locally based curriculum and assuring that teachers and students have adequate textbooks and materials to improve learning in these areas.
Dr. Womack served the COM-FSM system for 29 years. Twenty years were spent training teachers-two of which were spent training principals. He has authored many papers on various education topics and has written several textbooks. He is most noted for An Introduction to Professional Teaching and Student Learning in Micronesia-the COM-FSM textbooks used in all FSM States in the ED210-Introduction to Professional Teaching, the first course taken for future teachers. He always claims his most valuable education came as a 5th-8th grade teacher in the elementary schools where he taught for seven (7) years.