Time. This coming June will mark the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death. It was unexpected, which meant there were no opportunities to hold her hand one last time, tell her that I loved her or thank her for her love, support and selflessness. If there was any consolation, she did not suffer. She was, by nature, a kind, gentle caregiver. The thought of needing others to care for her would have been difficult for her to accept. Her sudden passing was, as the saying goes, “The way she would have wanted it.” Although, the sentiment did little to assuage the feelings of loss or fill the void her passing left behind.
My mom began her career as a bookkeeper. She was working at Drake Motor Sales in Gladwin, Michigan when she met my dad. She continued to work as a bookkeeper for various small car and boat dealerships until becoming a paraprofessional at King Elementary in Deer River, Minnesota in the early 1980s. Although she was a very capable bookkeeper, her work as a para was truly her life’s calling - minus playground duty!
It was fairly common to be in a store in Grand Rapids and have one of the students she worked with run up to her with a huge smile and wrap their arms around her in the kind of enthusiastic embrace that is the hallmark of young children. Her love for them was genuine. Their love for her was equally so. She touched lives. She made a difference. The work provided meaning in her life.
It is hard to believe we are already halfway through the school year. Continuing an emphasis on the importance of daily attendance, I thought the following information would be of interest. Minnesota has a compulsory school attendance law which outlines various expectations and requirements. This information is contained in Minnesota Statute 120A.22 COMPULSORY INSTRUCTION.
Subdivision 1. Parental responsibility.
The parent of a child is primarily responsible for assuring that the child acquires knowledge and skills that are essential for effective citizenship.
Subd. 4. School defined.
For the purpose of compulsory attendance, a "school" means a public school, as defined in section 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, 13, and 17, or a nonpublic school, church or religious organization, or home school in which a child is provided instruction in compliance with this section and section 120A.24.
Subd. 5. Ages and terms.
The Minnesota School Board Association held its annual leadership conference in Minneapolis last week. The conference provides school board members and superintendents an opportunity to expand both knowledge and skills through a variety of keynote speakers, roundtable discussions and breakout sessions. It is a valuable opportunity to “sharpen the saw.”
The keynote address, presented by Dr. Adolph Brown, was titled, Reflective Leaders are Effective Leaders. His address accomplished its intention by highlighting our predisposition for assumptions and judgment. The tactic he used was somewhat reminiscent of a Russian nesting doll.
As Dr. Brown was introduced, a nattily dressed man strode onto the stage. He said a few words and then broke into dance. I immediately thought he was surprisingly limber for a middle-aged college professor. After a few minutes, another younger-looking man wearing a long white smock and trendy pants walked onto the stage. His hair was tightly braided and stuck out all over. I am sure I was not alone wondering how he would be incorporated into Dr. Brown’s keynote. As it turned out, the younger-looking man was the real Dr. Adolph Brown. The first gentleman turned out to be his godson who has been on tour with some big names in the music industry, which explained the dancing skills.
“Engage!” This was the signature “phrase” of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the Star Trek Next Generation television series. Engage meant that the Enterprise would once again embark on a grand adventure. All hands on deck. If you happened to hold the post as the chief engineering officer, “engage” also meant that you better be prepared to perform some miracle to keep the ship operational due to a never ending siege of conflicts and catastrophes. From the original series, this role was best personified by the unforgettable Scotty.
Engage stands as a pretty good word with which to launch 2023. It implies commitment. It demands being present and involved. It means accepting responsibility for the process of life’s journey and its outcome.
Under the phrase “It Takes A Village,” our community’s children receive support from a wide variety of sources. This column will highlight the work of a few – the 544 Education Foundation, Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars, Otters Elementary PTO, and the booster clubs. While we partner with each of these organizations, they are all managed independently through various boards and committees.
The 544 Education Foundation is a great place to start. It was founded in 2000. Their mission is to raise, invest and grant money through a charitable foundation to support educational programs. The 544 Education Foundation is a strong partner. This fall they funded twenty-seven grant requests totaling just under $37,000! They also provide scholarships to graduating seniors. They also fully funded 107 classroom wish list requests and nearly fully funded one additional request. That’s pretty remarkable!