The Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Education Services, or BOCES, is on a mission that can be found in its mission: "As a result of our efforts, districts will maximize resources, through cooperation, to positively impact student learning."
So often in education, it is the activities and efforts behind the scenes that can be so significant in making a difference. As president of the BOCES board, which presides over the vast array of activities made possible through the cooperative coordination of eight regional school districts, I find solace in the unsung heroes who team up with exemplary staffs in our districts to meet the needs of our students, educators and administrators.
Jane Toothaker, executive director of the Northwest Colorado BOCES, works with her capable staff to make participation in a number of federal, state and grant-funded programs accessible to all participating districts in ways that otherwise would be unattainable. In many instances, were it not for BOCES, small districts simply would not have the student numbers to qualify for these programs, or participation would not be attained because of an inability to provide the administrative infrastructure required. Shared bidding for products and services used by school districts also saves countless dollars that allow these valuable funds to be diverted toward desperately needed direct educational services.
What does this contribution look like at the grass roots? The enhancements of our educational environments show through special education staff, resource staff and assigned classroom aides, occupational therapists, speech therapists, school psychologists, preschool screening programs, early education intervention and others.
The way these professionals interact on a daily, weekly and ongoing basis is illustrated through how they serve as an integral part of the team in each and every building.
These members of the BOCES staff meet regularly with our district staffs, share approaches and expertise, and truly add a level of crucial service that our district staffs need to do their jobs effectively.
The dramatic differences in our children's education compounds itself as the specific, descriptive, early and regular interventions play out when these students move up through the educational system.
You may be pleasantly surprised that all of our children in the schools know these professionals personally. They integrate their interventions throughout the schools and in nearly all settings. Our regular staffs provided by our various districts are able to address issues and meet a greater array of needs by teaching in concert and collaboration with BOCES services.
I would encourage concerned individuals who want to learn more about BOCES to visit our Web site at nwboces.k12.co.us, where you will discover links to each of the member districts in addition to the array of resources and materials to help us as parents and as a community help our children. It does take a village to educate a child. We can all be partners in ways that are demonstrated through the cooperative work between our local school districts and the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Brian Hoza is president of the Hayden School Board and the board of the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services and is the assistant campus dean for student services at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs.