01/12/12 — Star student: Fourth-grader shows potential is out there

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Star student: Fourth-grader shows potential is out there

DeQuan Jefferson is already destined for greatness.

Just in the fourth grade, he has already managed to earn the highest score on the end-of-grade math test in Wayne County.

And he has the promise of a $20,000 scholarship, should he decide to go to Appalachian State when he graduates.

Pretty good for a 10-year-old.

His dad and his extended family have every reason to be proud, too.

They raised him right, encouraging his studiousness and teaching him the values and work ethic he needs to succeed.

His is a good news story.

And it is a reminder.

Just because there are students right now who are struggling to get through their studies in Wayne County Schools -- and who do not have the support and encouragement they need at home -- does not mean every student is not achieving and every parent is not doing his or her job.

As important as it is to look at the problems at our schools, it is also critical that we celebrate those who are beating the odds, doing the work and making their county proud.

DeQuan is one of those young men.

He is an example of what happens when a child understands the importance of education and has a family who pushes him and encourages him to dream big.

He has already seen that hard work pays off. Now, all we have to do as a community is remind him of this moment when he is a teenager faced with other influences and possibilities.

If our schools do their job -- and his family continues their good work -- who knows, we might be looking at a future dentist or doctor -- and a role model for other students who aren't sure school is worth the effort.

The future of education is in the bright eyes and keen minds of students like DeQuan.

As we continue to debate how to make our schools better, we need to remember that he, and the hundreds of others with the potential to be like him, are where our future lies.

It is our job to show them the possibilities for their lives -- and to encourage their parents to see them, too. We have to demand more from them, and show them that they can make it if they put in the work.

If we understand that, we can make the changes and set the standards that will make a difference, one child at a time.

Published in Editorials on January 12, 2012 10:53 AM