Today I was able to meet with Erin Kuehn-Schettler who is the Director of Student Services for the School District. She has responsibility for helping to coordinate all efforts of the guidance, school psychologist, social work, and special education staff. Part of her job is to make sure that students are receiving the appropriate services they need to help them be successful. I had a great conversation with Erin and I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with her. Of the many things I have learned about our school district over the past four months, none surprised me as much as hearing that we currently have over 100 students in our district that are homeless. And as Erin added, those are only the ones we know of. I am not sure but I think stunned would best describe my reaction to that news. Again, maybe I am in my own little bubble but I never would have guessed that we would have that many students in our district that were homeless.
As I shared with Erin, thinking about those students who are homeless was really troubling. I look at my family, where my three kids have a roof over their head and food on the table every night. Despite that my kids have had their challenges. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to not know if you have a place to sleep or food for dinner each day. These are real challenges that some of our students are bringing to our schools.
So what are we doing about it as a district? That is a good question. We work to build safe places in our schools and in our classrooms. We work through our guidance counselors, social workers, and school psychologists to reach out to families and ask how we can help. We try to ensure that we have funding to support these students. We have done more in pursuing grant funding and other money streams to help, but the district could always use more. The school district really is a safety net for these kids.
When I decided to run for school board, I said I would make student needs my first priority. I intend to do just that. One of the first things I would look to do is figure out how we can support all of our students in their learning environments better. I think some of the support can come from parents. I have met a number of talented parents over the past four months that would be excellent helpers in the classroom. I would ask you, please take time to volunteer in a classroom. I did it last year and it was very rewarding. After talking with Erin today I want to get back to the classroom to provide whatever assistance I can. Perhaps, we can also work on a campaign to raise funds, collect clothes, school supplies, etc. to benefit those families less fortunate than we are.
Erin has only been with us for a year and she has a lot of work to do. She has a lot on her plate but after our visit I am confident that she will keep our district moving in the right direction. I look forward to working with her to ensure the needs of our most vulnerable students are met.
On a separate note, I was to meet with Principal Pam Hammen today at the HS, but they had an evacuation so her day went from available to meet to working in the kitchen to help ensure lunch was ready. I have to admire the fact that she was there working to ensure the needs of her students were met. I look forward to meeting with her on Monday.
I will also be out tomorrow (Saturday) with dropping literature for myself and Erika Hotchkiss.
Have a good weekend.