Become An Education Supporter This Year Advises LSU AgCenter Family Expert

Karen Overstreet  |  7/29/2005 2:17:33 AM

News You Can Use For August 2005

The weather still may be hot, but summer is mentally packed up for the year with the kids back in school. "It’s a time when you also can start anew," says AgCenter family resource management specialist Dr. Karen Overstreet.

If the smell of a new box of crayons still evokes pleasant memories, make a "New (school) Year’s resolution" to go back to school, only this time as an education supporter.

Education is one of the key indicators of success for the individual, community and state, according to Overstreet.

"Like it or not, the world is rapidly changing, and the job market demands different skills from yesterday," the family expert says, adding, "Our attitude toward education and the way we support it has a major impact on future economic development, which, in turn, affects our quality of life."

Supporting education isn’t just for those with children in school. A quality educational system and an educated population affect all of us. Although you may not have daily contact with your local school, there are still many ways to become a supporter.

Becoming an education supporter doesn’t require lots of money. In fact, a positive attitude and some of your time will go a long way toward making a difference. Overstreet offers several ideas for your fall "New Year’s" resolutions.

• If you have children in school, make a commitment to meet their teachers. If you can’t attend regularly scheduled open houses or parent-teacher conference days, make the effort to contact the teacher to arrange another meeting. This is just as important in high school as it is in the lower grades. Parental involvement conveys to your child that education is important.

• Don’t always assume your child is right and the teachers are wrong. Even if that’s the case, talk respectfully about the teacher. This can be a good example for your child of how to resolve differences. Trash talking the school or teacher undermines authority and teaches disrespect.

• Periodically show appreciation to teachers and other school employees. Did you enjoy the band concert? Send a note to the band director. Do your kids really like a certain food in the cafeteria? Send a note to the food service director. Do the grounds always look well maintained? Send a note to the maintenance director.

• Share your skills. Do you like to garden? Offer to help with a nature garden for a science class. Like to read? Volunteer to be a reading buddy for elementary children. Do you celebrate your heritage with ethnic food, clothing or traditions? Seeing or tasting brings social studies to life.

• Adopt a teacher or a classroom. Schools may have formal "adoption" programs with specific requirements. If the requirements weren’t what you had in mind, talk with the principal to see if you can create your own program. You and the adopted teacher can work out a way to meet the classroom needs with your interests and resources. This can be a good project for an organization as well as individuals. Adopters might do everything from providing school supplies to painting a classroom to visiting on a regular basis to share your expertise.

• Become politically involved. The next time a tax issue comes up, study it thoroughly. Don’t accept the local gossip – find out what the situation really is in the schools. Attend school board meetings as an observer for several months. You will develop a better understanding of the board dynamics than if you just show up for a crucial vote.

• Visit the schools every chance you can. Attend choir concerts, sports events, art shows and open houses so that you become familiar with the condition of the schools and some of the programs being offered. Keep an open mind. Music may not be your thing, but it can be just as important as a strong sports program for a well-rounded education.

Overstreet suggests that every time you see a big yellow bus on the road, ask yourself, "What am I doing to support my local school and the children in my community?" The answer may be easier than you think.

For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com/

Source: Karen Overstreet (225) 578-6701, or Koverstreet@agcenter.lsu.edu

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