Wednesday, December 6

The Crestone Eagle is a nonprofit monthly newspaper serving Crestone and the San Luis Valley

One educator’s viewpoint:

Being a part of the education village

By Karen Barbee

I sit watching my three granddaughters, ages 8, 10, and 13, playing in the woods outside our home with Challenger Peak as a background. Their excitement shows as they gather sticks and stones to build their fort. They do not realize how lucky they are to be romping in the fresh, clean air surrounded by the raw beauty of this land in the San Luis Valley, but I do.

They are simply children doing what they do best, living the moment and fulfilling their sense of curiosity. As I watch I am keenly aware of the responsibility adults have in laying a foundation for children so that they can navigate all of what life will present them through the rest of their lives. It is an important responsibility and a shared one.

While schooling is required and standardized education has become the norm, what is true is that each child is unique. It is no small feat for teachers to meet the diverse and unique needs of the children who enter their classrooms daily and yet that is precisely what they strive to do.

~Karen Barbee

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is an expression of the fact that children need the security and safe environment formed when parents, extended family members, neighbors, teachers, professionals, community members and policy makers all take a role and sense of responsibility in the care of the children. Some of these roles (parents, siblings) are by the birth of a child and others are taken on by choice.

Educators are people who make a choice to be a part of the village. Theirs is vital work as they spend their time helping to strengthen the foundation of each child in their classes. Having a quality education is one of the rights of all children. UNICEF states that without a quality education “children face considerable barriers to employment and earning potential later in life.

They are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes and less likely to participate in decisions that affect them – threatening their ability to shape a better future for themselves and their societies.” Thomas Jefferson recognized this and was the first to address creating an educational system in the United States. By 1918 all American children were required to attend school. The compulsory educational system of the United States was in place and with all its twists and turns continues to this day.

While schooling is required and standardized education has become the norm, what is true is that each child is unique. It is no small feat for teachers to meet the diverse and unique needs of the children who enter their classrooms daily and yet that is precisely what they strive to do.

According to Think Impact, there were 3,808,920 teachers nationwide in public and private elementary and secondary schools with 57,546 in Colorado in the 2019/20 school year. The Colorado Department of Education shows 79 of those teachers working in the Saguache County Schools.

This number does not include all of the pre-school teachers nor parents who are homeschooling. Each day there is a huge amount of effort being put forth to fulfill the idea of it taking a village to raise a child.

It is far from being an easy “job” and yet one that matters, indeed is critical, if the hope of the future is to be held safe in the hands of the children of this day.

The educational community of Saguache County includes:

  • Center Early Childhood Education
  • Haskin Elementary School
  • Skoglund Middle School
  • Center High School
  • Center Virtual Academy
  • The Academic Recovery
    Center
  • Moffat Pre-K – 12
  • Crestone Community School
  • Mountain Valley School
  • The Earth Worm Forest
    School
  • The Homeschooling Community

What stands out in this list are the educational options available in Saguache County: public, charter, private, virtual, in person, homeschool, pre-K to 12th grade. Each strives to meet the unique, developmental needs of the children. While not all of us get up in the morning and work directly with the youth of our community, we are all part of the village. One small, yet important action we can take is to take a minute to thank the teachers and parents who give their time and energy to educate the children of Saguache County. The fiber of our community can only get stronger when we recognize with appreciation those who daily engage with the children.

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