Spring Break Academy (copy)

John Pineda (left) and Chris Gutierrez work on math Wednesday during Transformation Waco’s Spring Break Academy, which aims to help students improve state test scores.

For more than a week, our community has mulled the awful predicament facing a school superintendent who by all accounts has successfully rallied educators, parents and students in reversing academic decline in Waco Independent School District, especially in struggling neighborhoods mired in generations of poverty. In an age when Americans seem much more selective in their views of administering justice, Dr. A. Marcus Nelson’s arrest and brief jailing in nearby Robertson County on a misdemeanor marijuana charge has sharply divided Wacoans.

Some say it’s time for Superintendent Nelson to depart, given the poor example he has set for those inspired by him. Others plead for pause, underlining his enormous influence, educational insights and inspirational leadership in turning around the fortunes of many youths abandoned by the system. For the moment, we concur with a group of pastors who on Monday encouraged the community to hear all the facts before making any firm conclusions one way or the other. Fair enough under our system of innocence till proven otherwise.

So let’s pause amidst all this intrigue and at least agree to praise the hundreds of Transformation Waco students who thought long-term and spent coveted spring-break days at school refining their literacy and math skills in preparation for pivotal state exams. In doing so, these students set the bar high for the rest of us, especially amid a multimillion-dollar nationwide college admissions scandal in which wealthy parents reportedly bribed test-preparation experts and coaches to help silver-spoon children cheat on or bypass standardized tests to get into elite universities.

And the Transformation Waco bunch? Even at a younger age, they know hard work, sacrifice and dedication are the real keys to personal and professional success. Their example is well worth pondering as this in-district charter school system’s Spring Break Academy today marks an industrious week through an achievement celebration. Each student, we’re told, will receive some type of trophy. They’ll also attend a panel on racism and bullying and have the opportunity to sign commitment cards. All told, this sort of endeavor represents the very best of America. Surely all can agree on this much.