By Alice Wellborn
Everyday Education 

You Can Make A Difference In Our Schools – Brevard NC

 


It’s a sad and scary time for North Carolinians who love public education and the promises it holds for children. In Transylvania County, we take those promises seriously.

There are lots of ideas about how to advocate for public education on the state and national levels. But what can we do on a local level to make an impact, move ahead, and continue to provide our kids with a great public education? How can we individually hitch up our pants and work within the system to get things done?

First, we can all work together as a community to support teachers and students. Share your energy and your resources, advocate for our schools with the county commissioners, and celebrate the accomplishments of our local students. Let teachers know that you appreciate their efforts and respect their skills. We are the “public” in public education in our community! It is what we make it – we are all accountable for the education of the children in Transylvania County.

And because we are the “public,” we can put ourselves in a position to have our voices heard. If you are a teacher, volunteer for the superintendent’s council, the school improvement team, the Tier III team, or any other school and system-level groups that interest you. If you are a parent, volunteer for the system’s parent advisory council, the OPT or PTO, the school improvement team, the calendar committee, or any other groups that help advise and govern the school system. Attend the meetings, do your homework, participate, listen and be heard. We are all accountable.

There are lots of other ways that parents can become a positive voice in the school. Volunteer regularly, join OPT or PTO, attend programs and events, come to conferences, express appreciation, share ideas, support your child’s education at home, learn names and let school staff learn yours.

I cannot emphasize this enough – if you want excellent public schools, you have to be an active, positive member of the school community. This is a time for participation and accountability, not entitlement.

Teachers can also work to be a positive voice in the school community. Say positive, helpful things to others. Refuse to engage in gossip and negativity. Support your colleagues. Don’t point fingers. Offer solutions instead of complaints. It’s really easy these days to become apathetic and cynical – and it’s hard to be a great teacher. Don’t give up!

Transylvania County has a wealth of talent and energy in the retirement community, and we are fortunate to have a core group of retirees with a strong community spirit and a love for children. Retirees are serving as mentors, tutors, substitute teachers, and research advisors. The TIME science research program is an excellent example of the difference that community volunteers can make in providing an excellent education. Our children need that talent and energy!

Anyone who is interested in supporting our schools has to get involved in the politics of public education. Vote carefully for school board members and regularly attend school board meetings. Our school board meets at the Morris Education Center on the first and third Monday of every month.

Check out what our state legislators, Chris Whitmire and Tom Apodaca, have to say about public education. Attend county commission meetings when the school budget is discussed. Stay abreast of what’s happening with the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, the federal education law. Communicate your opinions to the legislators who represent you at the local, state, and federal levels. Keep track of where the money comes from and what the money flows to. Remember that it’s your money and your public education system!

Here’s a summary of steps that we all can take to work within the local system to support excellent public education in Transylvania County:

Volunteer to work on any school committee that offers advice, makes goals, or sets policy – either at the system level or the building level.

Volunteer to share your time, talents, and resources with students in Transylvania County. Get involved.

Do what it takes to become a positive voice in the school community. Be the change you want to see!

Spend your time and energy on positive solutions. Establish strong supportive partnerships within the school community. Listen and consider the opinions of others with the same courtesy you expect in return. Think outside the box!

Be an informed, active citizen. Learn about candidates. Vote! Communicate with those who represent us. Go to budget meetings. Go to school board meetings. Express opinions – but do your homework and know what you’re talking about.

Those who support strong public education in our county have to be in it for the long haul – it will require patience, tolerance, and the ability to work on a long-term goal. Sometimes we have to stay in partnership with those we disagree with – so be it. It’s the only way to have a voice and to find solutions. Be positive, be informed, and actively participate on the local level.

“Teaching everyone takes everyone.” We are all accountable for public education in Transylvania County. It’s time to step up.

(Wellborn is currently a school psychologist in Transylvania County schools.)

 
 

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