Austin embodies, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’

Published 5:01 pm Sunday, September 6, 2015

David Krenz

Austin Public Schools Superintendent

The Austin School District has been in existence for 160 years and throughout that time the district and the community have always adjusted to the changes in student populations and changes in educational practice.

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Over the past two decades, the changes to both our student population and educational practice have been dramatic and with those dramatic changes the residents of the Austin School District have supported their schools!

I am sure everyone has heard the statement, “It takes a village to raise a child” and wondered what does that all entail. Over the next several months the Austin School District along with Austin Aspires and the greater Austin community will undertake the task of putting action to that statement.

The meaning of that statement goes well beyond being supportive of what the schools are doing, paying school taxes and requiring schools to educate the children. It means that each and everyone one of us has something to give to our children in their educational process that goes beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

It means that each of us has skills that can provide experiences well beyond the school walls in the education of our children. Those skills might be as simple as learning how to pull weeds from a garden to distributive networking of critical data for medical analysis; but if we do not provide those experiences and opportunities in real life settings, we are truly not educating our children.

Some of you have heard me tell the story of growing up with my grandparents on a farm and learning through experience about real problem solving. When the combine broke down and a storm was coming and the crop needed to be harvested, we learned how to fix that combine in a hurry with whatever we had at hand so we could save that crop. Our children need those kind of real life experiences.

Some of them are getting those experiences through jobs or families but a majority of our students do not have that same opportunity. Jennifer Lawhead with Austin Aspires and the Austin School District along with four other Minnesota school districts will be working with John McKnight from Northwestern University out of Chicago on an initiative called “Educating Neighborhood Partnerships” to identify and engage the assets of local residents, local clubs, organizations, businesses and governmental agencies as learning resources for our students.

We will begin this year and ask for each of you individually and through your organizations and work places to please be willing to listen to the possibilities. Some of this work has already begun with students from our Advanced Placement Biology class working with Hormel Research and Development, Mayo Clinic physicians and Hormel Institute researchers, the mentorship program at Austin High School as well as the Step-Up Achieve program that provides job opportunities for students.

But now is the time to expand opportunities and ages in an effort to reach more of our children.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article and stay tuned as more information will be coming.