Karen Overstreet, Claesgens, Mark A. | 7/20/2007 1:19:01 AM
Back-to-school time isn’t just for kids. Adults have responsibilities, too, according to LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist Dr. Karen Overstreet.
"Even if you don’t have school-age children, you still are important to the overall education efforts in your community," Overstreet said. Parents have obvious responsibilities for their own children’s education, and other adults have volunteer roles.
Getting the whole community involved in education communicates to students the importance of schooling and can provide intergenerational interaction. Citizens who regularly participate in educational activities tend to be more supportive of the local schools, and, in turn, schools are often more responsive to local needs.
"There’s a tendency to think that the problem is always lack of money," Overstreet said, but added, "As important as financial resources are, there are a lot of needs that dollars can’t fill."
Students need role models and mentors whether it is a reading buddy in elementary school or someone with whom to discuss a future profession in high school. Schools need volunteers for both curricular and extracurricular activities – perhaps a wetlands restoration project for an ecology class or developing a butterfly garden for plant and insect classes. Adults can encourage students by supporting school activities – not just the sports teams but debate teams, choirs, science clubs and other student organizations.
Schools in smaller communities may already have a comfortable relationship with the community, but school employees in larger districts may be relatively unknown to the community.
Student safety is of high importance, so Overstreet says to expect a background check if working directly with children or to at least sign in and follow visitor protocol. Don’t feel that you are being put off, but rather be glad that the school is doing its best to protect its students.
For related family topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.