Oak Creek Your job, hobbies, past experiences and connection to south Routt County are worth sharing in the South Routt School District, school officials said.
Amy Pankonin, Soroco's placed-based education teacher, is seeking south Routt community members to volunteer their skills and stories to teach children.
The district has tried to utilize the talents of community members in the past, but Pankonin hopes others in south Routt contribute to the education of students.
"There could be people out there that we don't even know about that could be a great help," she said.
She is looking for possible school-to-career candidates to help give students an idea of what they want to do after high school or college or people who have a certain knowledge of the community or that would be important for children to know. Everyone is welcome, Pankonin said.
For example, war veterans could share their experiences, ranchers could talk about agriculture, railroad employees could tell about their work, miners could explain what it's like to mine and an artist could be a guest teacher in an art class.
"We really want to educate the kids about the area they live in," Pankonin said.
The project also is a way to form a better connection among the schools and the community, which sometimes isn't that strong, she said.
This is the first year the district has had one person who has dedicated all her time to developing placed-based educational activities.
Besides recruiting locals to come to school to teach, Pankonin organizes field trips and helps develop education strategies to teach basic subjects using south Routt as the classroom.
Her position is provided through a grant from the Yampa Valley Legacy Initiative, which helped pay the salary for one year.
"I think that if we were going to make placed-based education a natural part of our curriculum, we needed someone to work consistently with the teachers," South Routt School District Superintendent Steve Jones said.
He hopes bringing in Pankonin for a year will build the placed-based program enough to sustain itself in the future.
"We won't have the funds for the position next year," Jones said.
If Pankonin can bring better cohesion to the placed-based program in south Routt schools, Jones sees it as a benefit to the students and the teachers.
"It's important because it's the link that the students have to the community, and often it is the only link the people have to the schools," Jones said. "It also makes school fun, interesting and real. To provide meaning to education is important."
The Yampa Valley Legacy Initiative has helped with placed-base programs all around northwest Colorado, including Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Moffat County and east Grand County.
"Placed-based education is a better way of understanding the place you live in," said Paul Sachs of the Yampa Valley Legacy Initiative.
It emphasizes understanding and preserving the history of the area as well as discovering certain realities of the present and future, he said.
It also is a benefit to the community.
Sachs used a placed-based project in south Routt where freshman science and geography classes mapped out accidents from the past 10 years as a good example.
"That's a real value to the community," he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the placed-based program should call Amy Pankonin at
To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206
or e-mail dcrowl @amigo.net