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Barrow valedictorian: "I was never meant to be here and I refused to accept that."

Teachers, if you wonder why you do it -- here's the reason.

Listen to this moving speech by Paul Serrato, the 2015 Apalachee High School valedictorian. Congratulations to Paul, who will attend Stanford University , one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. (And one of the most difficult to gain admission.)

As Barrow Superintendent Chris McMichael said:

“This is a stellar example of why educators do what they do every day. It is about the students and the opportunity we can provide them for a better life through education, not the endless testing and data collection du jour, statistical autopsies of the last year’s scores or all the other onerous attempts we are currently forced to make in public education to try and quantify things that are at their root unquantifiable. Education and schooling boils down to one thing – people. It is the people in Paul’s life, his family and teachers as well as his own internal drive, that have guided and pushed this young man over the past 12 years to avail himself of the educational opportunities available to him.

Anyone who believes that the schools and teachers in our state and this great nation are not  providing the opportunities for our children to receive a strong education need to listen to Paul and perhaps reflect a bit on what actually matters. It is not about the test scores and statistical minutia. It is about the relationships and connections that are facilitated on day-to-day basis in our schools and classrooms that make this kind of impact on a person’s life and future.

While I was listening to Paul speak I could not have been prouder to be a public educator in this community and in this state.”




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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.