NORMAN — “Keep going” were the resounding words of keynote speaker Justice Steven Taylor of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, quoting Harriet Tubman at the Norman Public Schools Foundation luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
The annual luncheon, hosted by the NPS Foundation, honors donors and staff of the NPS Foundation as well as district leaders and personnel, encouraging further support and detailing the critical role the foundation plays in supporting classroom activities across the district.
Taylor called the mission of NPS and the NPS Foundation “noble” and focused on ideals he felt were of key importance to live by and pass on to children.
“It is written that success is never final and failure is never fatal. If there’s one thing that matters, it’s courage. Never stop believing you can make a difference, as we’ve heard from (Norman High School teacher David Askey) today, who makes a difference in his students’ lives every day,” Taylor said.
Preceding Taylor’s address, Askey gave an entertaining and detailed description of how the foundation aids his multi-faceted and hands-on instructional approach by supplying him and his students with expensive scientific equipment.
“I try to put my students in the position that the great thinkers were in, to think their way out of problems and show that they’re understanding the material,” Askey said, naming several students whose experience in his classroom inspired their careers in science and engineering.
Askey’s successful engaging of students was evidence of how the district has pushed forward in its mission of quality instruction, in spite of an era which both Taylor and Superintendent Joe Siano called difficult.
“How we perform in difficult times is crucial. Our resources over the past years have become more and more limited, but here in Norman, the community stepped up and passed the district’s largest bond issue in 2009 — not the best year for us or the state,” Siano said.
This sort of resilience and determination was what Taylor called most important in both education and overall example for children.
“There is one thing that matters, and that’s courage. Speaking for children requires courage, as they have no voice,” Taylor said. “A lot of young people want to avoid criticism, and the best way to do that is to say, do and be nothing. To be popular, it is counter-productive to disagree with the majority. We must teach our kids about courage.”