Grade Expectations by Dr. Gaertner

Grade Expectations


As parents, grades and teachers’ comments mean far more than when we were students ourselves. Our hearts frequently beat with the rhythm of the successes and failures our children experience at school, on the field, or on the court.


Salem School is not an easy school in which to maintain an “A” average. In fact, for many students, being at Salem means a lot of hard work just to maintain passing grades, not to mention making the honor roll. This fact has caused a number of parents and students real distress over the years. Some parents have been tempted to resent the high standards, or assume that Salem appeals only to “smart” kids, while not caring about the success of “average” or slower students. Everyone needs to know that when students have diagnosed learning differences, we do our best to provide services and a safe setting where we can level the playing field for these students; and that the creativity of our teachers and the extended knowledge they have in understanding how their students learn best, drives instruction to be differentiated, innovative and engaging. We can tell you truthfully that our students are being mentored in becoming well rounded and well (g)rounded in Christ within their daily learning environment. Things worthwhile are things that have been earned and experienced where hard work and discipline are keys to success.


Our expectations as parents for our children and our school, teachers, daily work, grades, behavior standards, etc., will necessarily vary from family to family. That’s a fact that has contributed to my loss of sleep, and Larry’s loss of hair, as no doubt it has to other administrators’. Some parents come close to destroying their children’s childhood for the “A.” Others put schoolwork lower than the laundry on the priority scale. Nevertheless, Salem was and still is being formed to offer a certain kind of education – Christian, taught in a certain way- developmentally.  Through years of trial and error, we have come up with the program we currently offer to families seeking this kind of education. Admittedly, it is not a “one size fits all” program. We know that one cannot rush a brain’s development and that students must be engaged in their own learning.


Therefore, while experience has taught us that the vast majority of students from families committed to a Christian education will, with varying degrees of effort, succeed at Salem, there are students who will find it very difficult. My heart, just like our teachers’ hearts, goes out to the student of any age who, year after year, struggles to do his best, and pulls

“B’s” and “C’s” at best. However, because those grades represent consistent, gut-it-out work, in the long run they will be worth far more than the “A’s” of the student who earned them without much effort at all.


School is not all there is to life; in fact it is a very short part of it, relatively, as we adults have discovered. The students who, in their homes and at Salem, learn to work hard for everything they get, will gain much more from their school years than the students who breeze through school with little or no effort. We as parents need to remember that, just like our long-forgotten report cards, our children’s grades will have little impact in the adult world for which we are preparing our children.

Grade expectations need to be kept in perspective, by the school and the families. After all, we are primarily in the business of raising godly children, not GPA’s. In closing, I would like to share with you a piece written in the 1600’s by an anonymous author- which I think best explains what “well grounded and well rounded education” provides –




¢ Sooner or later, a wise man discovers that life is a mixture of good

days and bad, victory and defeat, give and take.

¢ He learns that it doesn’t pay to be a too-sensitive soul, that he should

let some things go over his head like water off a duck’s back.

¢ He learns that he who loses his temper usually loses out, that all men

have burnt toast for breakfast now and then and that he shouldn’t

take the other fellow’s grouch too seriously.

¢ He learns that most others are as ambitious as he is, that they have

brains as good or better, that hard work, not cleverness, is the secret

of success.

¢ He learns that no man ever gets to first base alone, and that it is only

through cooperative effort that we move on to better things.

¢ He realizes that the “art of getting along” depends 98% on his own

behavior toward others.

¢ If you want to make yourself agreeable and approachable to

others, then you need to put them at ease!