Education Matters moves forward with findings | SierraSun.com

Education Matters moves forward with findings

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Sierra Sun file photoA teacher takes items from the Tahoe Truckee High School salad bar in this January Sierra Sun file photo. The Education Matters team is working on creating a safe healthy environment, which was indicated in forums as a priority for local parents, students and educators.

The Education Matters team is wasting no time in moving community input from words to action for the local education system.

The Education Matters core group is beginning to form community action committees around three of eight key priorities: Safe Healthy Environment, the Whole Child and Preparation for Life. Members of the committees will soon set to work researching new ideas and programs for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

“The teams will receive all of the ideas that came out of the (Education Matters community) forums so that they have a number of jumping off points,” said Laura Abbey Brown, executive director of the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation. “They will come up with ideas and do preliminary research.”

Education Matters is a collaborative effort between the school district, the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation and the Lahontan Community Foundation.

During the month of May, nearly a dozen community forums were held in Truckee and on the North Shore at which parents, educators and students gathered to discuss educational needs and desires.

The community identified eight main priorities that the foundations will now take into consideration during their grant cycles and that the school district will take into consideration when developing curriculum and programming.

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Some of the issues set to be tackled by the committees, such as nutrition, vocational training and career planning are already being addressed within the district.

“I want to be careful that we are taking into consideration all the great work that is already going on,” said board member Bev Ducey, who will be serving on the Preparation for Life team and has already been working with superintendent Dennis Williams and local businesses to bring new career preparation programs to students in the district.

“We need to take inventory of al the different committees that are already out there ” and there’s a lot.”

The Education Matters core team wants existing committees, organizations and professionals to come together to share ideas and resources and to avoid overlap, Brown said.

The three jumping-off priorities were selected first so the team could have the greatest amount of early success and experience the fewest road blocks, said Phebe Bell, program officer for the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.

“We wanted to be thoughtful in our steps instead of jumping into the fire. There is already energy and traction and things happening, so let’s build on those successes,” Bell said.

Some of the other topics, such as the development of individualized curriculum and second language programming are heavy issues, and are going to be slower moving, Bell said, and will require more planning and partnering before action can be taken.

If all moves smoothly, Brown said additional priorities might be addressed later in the school year.

Informational literature about Education Matters and the community action committees will be sent to district parents and forum participants in the coming weeks. Anyone interested in joining a committee or learning more about Education Matters should contact Laura Abbey Brown at the Excellence in Education Foundation at 550-7984.

– Safe Healthy Environment: Nutrition, diversity, school pride and cultural acceptance.

– Whole Child: Manners, respect, self-confidence, character development and personal responsibility.

– Preparation for Life: Vocational skills training, career planning, mentoring and internship programs.

In late spring, nearly a dozen community forums were held in Truckee and on the North Shore at which parents, educators and students gathered to discuss educational needs and desires. The eight priorities they identified are:

– Safe Healthy Environment

– The Whole Child

– Preparation for Life

– Diverse Curriculum

– Quality Teachers

– Individualized Instruction

– Integrated cultures and second language programs

– Effective leadership and management

The Education Matters team will get to work on their first three topics in the coming months. Teams will come up with an idea, research it by looking at other school districts to determine what has been successful, and then the committees will make recommendations to the school board.

The board will give the committee the go ahead to implement programming, tell them to research further, or to nix the idea all together.