Climbing Inside and Exploring LaRose’s Education PhilosophyBy Ari L. Noonan @ 2:00 PM July 13, 2012
Fourth in a series
Re “Meet Super LaRose on Tuesday Night at 6”
Mr. Dave LaRose At the present moment, with new Supt. Dave LaRose tooling down the coast from Washington state to Culver City, his ETA being Sunday, it is time to reflect on the roots of the new leader of the School District.
“I am a New Englander,” he says with pride. “I grew up in Maine. Spent 20 years there, growing up in a small town. Went to undergrad in Vermont.”
Not a trace of New England’s quickly identifiable speaking patterns have survived, though.
“Let me have you give a call to my mom,” he says with a laugh, “and then you’ll hear one. She has enough of it for me and others. Quite a bit of the Down East in her.”
His businessman father and his mother are retired now, and after moving around, they have settled where they started, in the Maine community of Sanford. The younger Mr. LaRose was born there 46 years ago.
He and His Work May Be One
Meet a member of a select community, a man who passionately, rapturously, loves what he does.
He craves wading into philosophical waters, surfing for hours.
Inherently analytical, deep thinking encompasses him. Reflection is a favorite pastime.
He never dreamed of being anywhere but in education. “As a student,” Mr. LaRose says, “I enjoyed the environment and the culture. I love to learn, to teach and to speak.
“In some respects, it can be perceived as a selfless profession. But in reality, a lot of it is selfish, too, because you tend to feel very good about what you are doing and what impact you are having on a day-to-day basis.
“Whether it is athletics or the arts, there is just so much that represents what education is and what helps harness the entire experience so that essential learning skills are attained, in arts, athletics, technical education and electives where students learn what they are good at.
“I have always enjoyed the whole culture and experience,” Mr. LaRose says, and isn’t that obvious?
Pound for Pound
What about test scores, a national rage in recent years? How much do they weigh on Mr. LaRose’s scales.
Turning to attitudinal and evaluational changes that have altered the education landscape in the last two decades, “I have seen a narrowing definition of what student success is.
“That has only affirmed what is in my heart and my philosophy – making sure that holistic definition of success, that parents’ definition of success, that young adults’ definition of success does not come down to a handful of assessments.
“Certainly those (test scores) can be measuring sticks about whether a kid has the essential skills to go on and do good things.
“But they are not the only assessment. Test scores are an absolute indicator of our fundamental purpose of learning, but they don’t take into consideration the full context of the whole child.
“If you combine the narrowing definition of success,” Mr. LaRose said, “with where we have been across the country with the economy, it has forced some systems to eliminate programs. That has made them a little shortsighted about how essential they are for kids to be successful.”