Stephanie Pearce: Community and schools go hand in hand |

Stephanie Pearce: Community and schools go hand in hand

Stephanie Pearce

When I was a kid, some of my very first memories were at school functions. Not as a student, but as an observer and as a mascot of sorts. My older cousins were cheerleaders for our Bulldogs and they had a little cheer outfit made for me and sometimes I would get to go down and “cheer” with them. It seemed to me like the entire community would come to support our kids in their events. I was excited and proud to be a Bulldog. It’s moments like those that make me realize how our relationships between community and schools have changed.

Schools used to be a place where communities came together and socialized. There were community dances, community plays, and community dinners in the rural schools. Not just for the families of the kids that went to school there, but for the entire community. A trust between administrators, neighbors, and students was built. Administrators weren’t out of touch with the community and were easily accessible because they were invested not only in the school, but the community and in turn, the community was invested in the school. The Maybell community seems to be the closest thing we have for a positive example of this with all the community involvement they’ve mustered lately.

If we can get not only parents, but the community to become engaged in the schools again, so many resources would open up for a learning environment to expand. We have community members that have donated time to events such as Sheep Wagon Days to teach about our agricultural heritage. Its community members that help to make learning effective and help tie community roots with hands on learning. We need more opportunities like this in our schools and its community involvement that provides those opportunities from pre-K through high school. When the community relationships grow, more trust is seen in the schools.

There seems to be a disconnect and mistrust between the school district and the parent/children needs in the educational arena. If there wasn’t, our school district would not be losing so many families to homeschool and online alternatives thereby losing thousands of dollars with each student gone. I know the district has been working on reaching the homeschool community to include them in some classes so they can get their numbers up for funding and that is a great, but the answers to why they chose to leave in the first place need to be addressed. There has to be more than religious convictions that lead parents to want to have a more hands on approach in their child’s learning. I know there was a lot that went in my choice to homeschool.

Without a great school system, communities will not flourish. When I’ve helped with making travel arrangements for prospective candidates at work, one of the first questions I am asked is “how is the school system there?” To keep our community thriving, we need good schools to help pull quality candidates in for the jobs we have here. Whether you have children in our school systems or not, you have to see the health of our school system is vital to our community. Community support and input is essential to an effective school system.

So, let’s rally for our kids. Let’s show them how we support them and their families. Let’s make them proud to be from this community and to be a Bulldog. Show your Bulldog pride by researching the issues and fill out your ballot for the school board election in November.

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