This particular issue day brought to light the everyday struggles schools, administrators and teachers are faced with to educate youth with an ever diminishing budget. However, it was very refreshing and inspiring to see the love, dedication, experience and commitment the speakers have in their respective positions. The speakers discussed issues such as budget cuts and the challenges faced because of those budget cuts, Leading with Less/First Year as a Principal and Teaching with Less. Some alarming statistics are 8 out of 10 kids live in homes that are right around poverty level. Students of low income families are 7 times more likely to drop out of school, the transient rate of students (not having an established place to live) is right around 30% and growing and 40% are not prepared for primary schooling. However, with programs like Every Student Succeeds Act, Capturing Kids’ Hearts and Kids at Hope local schools are helping turn those statistics around. For example, “when you have a child’s heart, you have their minds” is the nexus behind Capturing Kids’ Hearts. This approach is taught at the elementary and middle school levels. Kids at Hope is primarily taught at Mingus Union High School but applies to children of any age. Their three prong approach is, “we believe” – children succeed when they are surrounded by adults who believe they can succeed. Secondly, “we connect” – children succeed when they have meaningful, sustainable relationships with caring adults. Thirdly, “we time travel” – children succeed when they can articulate their future. Ultimately, every child can succeed, they just need to be shown they can.
One class member stated about the day, “I walked away with mixed emotions. I’m very concerned about the ongoing budget cuts our education system continues to face. Our educational systems cannot sustain any more budget cuts. However, I also feel overwhelming pride and confidence in the caliber of teachers and administrators we have in the Verde Valley. Their love and dedication to our children is obvious and they’re not going to throw in the towel and give up due to the continued financial restraints. Instead, they’re going to become creative and continue to tackle the challenges because the youth of the Verde Valley mean too much to them to give up.”
For more information about Verde Valley Leadership, please visit www.vvleadership.org.