Chesterton Tribune

A Difference: Guest Commentary By Dr Dirk Baer Superintendent Duneland School Corporation

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A Difference: Guest Commentary By Dr Dirk Baer Superintendent Duneland School Corporation

Upon my arrival in the Duneland School Corporation almost 25 years ago I heard the term “The Duneland Difference” for the first time. I have spent the last 25 years trying to figure out exactly what “The Duneland Difference” is.

I applied the test of what characteristics a good school has and realized Duneland met all of the criteria. The schools have high expectations for every student no matter what their level of study. We offer a rigorous curriculum that is fair in its assessments. We have sufficient resources to help all students achieve, although this is currently an area of challenge as funding from the state continues to dwindle.

All of our schools offer a healthy, safe and supportive learning environment. Our schools and classrooms are equipped for teaching and learning. We have an excellent cadre of qualified teachers and instructional assistants in every classroom. Our leadership from the Board down is strong and supportive. The support from our parents and community is exemplary.

All of these characteristics and outstanding people make Duneland a great place, but many schools have these characteristics so what makes this “Duneland Difference?” It became clear to me when one of our media secretaries relayed a poignant story to me from her building.

She witnessed a student shuffle in one morning with a weight heavier than the backpack on his shoulders. From what she knew of him he endured a lion’s share of challenges at school and home. One of his instructional aides who had been working with him for some time turned as he approached. When she smiled at him it was like watching the sun rise and his response to her was like witnessing a flower bloom. The media secretary had these words echoing in her head, “And that’s where teaching and learning begins!”

The light bulb went on and at that moment she got it and subsequently so do I! That is the “Duneland Difference!” It’s the people who create that warm and safe environment where teaching and learning come together. I am honored to be even a small part of the difference!


Posted 10/26/2011