Whew! All that wisdom won’t be wasted

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Here’s a suggestion to educators throughout North Idaho: Listen to Jerry.

Better still, while the broader community fetes Jerry Keane during this, his last school year in Post Falls, all should take heed of what four decades of astute observation and front-line experience have taught him.

For one, when Keane says today’s teachers are the best yet, particularly considering the challenges they face to teach our children, you can take it to the bank. That doesn’t mean every teacher is outstanding, but his conclusion strongly suggests that generalizations about the decline of classroom instruction are off base.

In Monday’s in-depth article about Keane’s career, written by Devin Weeks, the District 273 superintendent also shed light on one of the great quandaries facing not just education, but society: How do we protect our kids from shootings in schools?

Last year was the bloodiest ever for school shootings in the U.S., with 163 casualties. That’s nearly double the next-deadliest year (1986, with 97 casualties). Five decades of research shows that the typical shooter is a 16- or 17-year-old male.

Responses to this tragic trend range from trying to outlaw guns to spending millions on safety measures at schools. But in his interview, Keane brought up another option, one that’s simple, costs nothing extra and can be implemented right now:

Pay closer attention to kids, remaining vigilant to those showing signs of mental distress, and ensure they get help quickly. Keane acknowledges that the problem is incredibly complex, and it is — but helping the kids who are social outcasts, whose red flags are there to be seen by the keenly observant, could not possibly go amiss.

While Keane’s retirement next spring will strike a somber note for those who have known this fine man over the years, there’s good news: He doesn’t plan to seek greener pastures in retirement. He’s sticking around, and he’s eager to continue to help any way he can.

Good for him, and very good for North Idaho.

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