Gretchen Van De Carr: Community collaboration valued | SteamboatToday.com

Gretchen Van De Carr: Community collaboration valued







Dear Editor,

I feel the strong need to respond to the recent letter submitted to the Education Fund Board by Mr. Meeks, Ms. Mohr and Mr. Kasper stating they personally do not support the collaboration of Partners in Routt County's school-based mentoring program, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps' Yampa Valley Science School and other community group programs collaborating within our local schools.

What a shame that these three school leaders do not value the services that thousands of our local students receive from these groups each year.

I am curious when the last time one of these folks had a child of their own experience difficulties in the walls of their own schools and be at risk of failing until they were engaged with a school-based mentor or found a love of school through their hands-on experience at science camp. I am guessing it's been a very, very long time, if ever.

Well, for me personally, I experience it daily. My own children have been saved by the professional and exemplary services and engagement of their school-based mentors. These mentors have the time to guide them through their struggles with organizational skills, social issues and emotional needs that are so important to master in preparation for academic learning.

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These mentors come to our community with education degrees to earn less than minimum wage to give these students the direction they need to succeed, and give teachers that extra hand they need to maintain the quality of academic education they are passionate about.

I ask you three top administrators, what is your personal experience with these programs? And how can you say you speak for the entire school districts?

Yampa Valley Science School has been supported by the Education Fund since 2007. Sixth-grade teachers have expressed this program is "an integral part of the middle school experience …," and is "a life changing experience …" and as a result of this program, "students retention has increased at an alarming rate." One teacher even stated, "I cannot emphasize enough how integral this program is to our students' future success."

I'm not sure how our three administrators would interpret these comments, but certainly they don't sound similar to supplemental experiences that, if they vanished tomorrow, there would be no decline in student performance.

Perhaps these administrators should gain their perspectives from the front-line teachers and students themselves instead of putting dollars and pride ahead of what's right for our kids. After all, we are only talking about 2 percent of the entire Education Fund, about $130,000, which is leveraged by more than a quarter million dollars of outside funds from Partners and RMYC alone.

We have an excellent school system here in our community. But it's not only the great standardized test results that make it so unique. It is the powerful and out-of-the-box collaborations between the schools and community groups that has brought a higher level of thinking opportunities to our students.

Routt County is not all about the bottom line or the final grade. We are about producing level-headed decision-makers that draw on their life experiences.

Please Mr. Meeks, Ms. Mohr and Mr. Kasper … don't take away these opportunities for our kids. Those of us who have lived and worked here for decades, raising our families in this fantastic community, know the true value.

Gretchen Van De Carr

Proud parent and community group leader

Steamboat Springs