One of my favorite things ever is when someone walks up to me just to say, “I want to know how I can help the schools.” You can guess the answer I have is about a mile long. When this happened recently, the person explained why she felt a sense of urgency on the matter and her reasoning revealed to me a real problem we have, but it is a solvable one.
My friend revealed that in reading on her neighborhood NextDoor site, a new resident was moving into the district and inquired about the local schools. The response he got was almost universally negative. She was disheartened by this and being a problem-solver herself, resolved to do something about it. “How can I help?”
This got me thinking about an idea I have been considering since before I got this job. How can neighbors help their neighborhood schools? I notice that people who don’t have children in the local school seem to have a real disconnect from the school, as if what happens in it doesn’t affect them. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I resolved to reach out to neighborhood associations and offered to speak at their meetings or write an article for their newsletters on topics related to education in Putnam City. I look forward to getting this opportunity. The gist of my initial remarks is that we as neighbors are in a symbiotic relationship with the neighborhood school, whether we acknowledge it or not. We rise and fall together.
Why do people build neighborhood associations, pay their dues and even attend neighborhood meetings? For the most part it is because they want to maintain or increase their home value by joining together with like-minded people to improve their surroundings. This mentality should extend to the local school as well. As the neighborhood school goes, so goes the neighborhood. Doesn’t it make sense that those living around that school should care about what goes on inside it?
Because I firmly believe that American democracy is built in the public school system generation after generation, it is crucial that I do my part to ensure that our schools are strong. Helping my local school – even though I don’t have children in it – is an act of civic duty to me. If you see it that way too, and if you live in Putnam City, please reach out to me so we can work together on this. It pays dividends in a myriad of ways.