Happy 3rd Anniversary SJK!
It’s been quite an experience and both Jonna and I will agree that it has enriched our lives personally to meet so many new people in our community and see so many come together in different ways to Support Jeffco Kids.
Though it’s been rewarding, it’s not been an easy ride. With a 780 square mile county serving more than 86,000 children, there are many differing opinions and experiences. Each one voice is unique and valuable and critical to the success of educating each child as an individual.
Because it’s also the beginning of a New Year, we are sharing our wishes with you.
Jonna’s New Year Wish
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I truly believe our Jeffco Community is special. Apparently, I’m not the only one. When people move here to raise their families, they decide to stay, long after their children have graduated and married.
In Jeffco, we are a little bit of everything; and as a result, Jefferson County is a pretty good reflection of the state of Colorado: A mix of rural, suburban, and urban communities. The one common denominator, the one thing that ties us together, is that all of Jefferson County shares the same school district – all 780 square miles. It makes us pretty special, and it’s the one key factor in who we all are.
Our Jeffco schools serve the community in many more ways than educating our children: they are the center for gathering; whether it’s for a community celebration or, tragedy such as fire or flood, or a community emergency.
When the school district feels pain, the rest of the community feels the same pain. After all, with a student population of over 86,000 and employees 12,000+/- (Jeffco Schools has been the largest employer in the county for most of its existence), it would be hard not to.
So, taking all of this into account, my New Year’s Wish for Jeffco is that we don’t forget who we are, or how much we count on each other to get things done – certainly, to get them done right. As a community, we’ve had our fair share of challenges over the last few years. More lie ahead for us this year, and we will need to be the same, strong, solidly united Jeffco Community the nation (and yes, the world) watched in 2015. We need to remember how much our schools mean to us, the important role our public schools play in all of our lives, and be bold about protecting them.
While that may be my key message here, I have a few more New Year Wishes for 2017:
- To see the number of homeless Jeffco students drop from approximately 2,000 to zero.
- To see the 33% poverty level of our Jeffco students drop to zero.
- ALL our Jeffco legislators (and Colorado legislators – but that’s probably a stretch) understand and support the need to fund our public schools and be successful in eliminating the negative factor that plagues ALL Colorado public schools.
- Hope that our Jeffco school board has the vision and means needed to lead our district through the challenging budget and leadership decisions to ensure Jeffco’s status as a leader in the state and nation.
And, in 2017, may we all see prosperity and peace.
Shawna’s New Year Wish
Of course, I second what Jonna has written. I second everything she says and it’s nice to be so “in-tune” with a person who has become one of my favorite people in the world. But I have my own words for you as well, you expected that if you know me.
My wish is that our current staff stay with us and with Jeffco. I’m horribly depressed at our current funding situation and though we are surrounded personally by exceptional teachers and staff who have become some of my heroes and best friends, I know how badly we need you to remain committed to Jeffco. I also know how important it is that the rest of the community rise up to join you in making a difference and to turn things around to support ALL children in our district. Thank you for your dedication to Jeffco!
Jeffco is an exceptionally special place, as Jonna mentioned. We have more active education advocates than any other place and we’re fortunate that we have a vast network. This one characteristic alone can attract the best and brightest staff members for our children. In a world where education staff are not feeling supported or respected, we can provide that in our own little corner of the world.
There’s one important component to this work, though. New people have to be joining in. As I learned when we entered Kindergarten, it’s crucial to become involved fully in our schools if you truly want to make a difference for children. I don’t just mean going to a few meetings at your own school and paying a membership, you need to become aware and involved in advocacy for public education and understand the facts fully on the statewide landscape at a minimum to be effective.
I was lucky and found Jonna almost immediately (or, more accurately, she found me.) I allowed myself to be drawn into this massive effort to support public education and it’s been incredibly rewarding. But what I’m realizing as crucial, now that we only have 5 more years left of school, is that more parents need to join in every year. Education advocacy takes it’s toll on those participating. Take a look at the staff members and parents who have supported campaigns and notice that you’ve seen the same faces year after year, until they retire or their children leave the schools. Take a look at the leadership of your high school PTA and notice those faces continuing to hold the efforts during a time when most parents have long ago walked away from involvement.
Eventually, people end their relationship with the schools and walk off into the sunset and other endeavors. I didn’t understand this when we were still in early elementary. Over the years I’ve watched more and more of my fellow advocates become exhausted and move on. Friends in Dougco, friends in Jeffco, retiring teachers and principals and staff members, parents of children who graduated, etc. Though they still care deeply and help to support public education, there comes a time for new leaders to step up. New people to become board members supporting public education. New PTA officers. New leaders to support campaigns. New advocates to take leadership roles in all capacities.
We are lucky to still have Jonna and so many other strong leaders in Jeffco via Support Jeffco Kids. Her daughter graduated in 2012, the year she co-chaired the mill and bond campaign, and she’s still one of the hardest working volunteers I know.
My biggest wish is for Jeffco to be supported by new leaders joining us. New parents need to step up into leadership roles and be active and new staff members need to step in and learn from our staff advocates before they retire. We’ll all eventually ride off into the sunset but the need will always remain for new advocates to take the reigns and Support Jeffco Kids.
I hope that everyone reading this will take a moment to think about the ways they can help. Take the next step and do things as simple as sharing this information without worry of being seen as political on a nonpartisan issue like education. Or reach out and ask how they can become involved and join in the effort to advocate for all children.
Children will always be worth it.
I’ll be completely honest, it’s hard work. It’s not ever about making a name for yourself, supporting public education is about our children, our future, and our community. But, when you get a hug from a child you helped years ago, or a thank you from the parent of a child with special needs that you helped advocate for, or a hug from a special teacher or principal who appreciates that you put yourself on the line to support their work, it’s all worth it.
My wish is that, if you’re reading this, you join in. We will always be stronger together.
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Our mission is to educate the Jeffco Community on the importance of supporting public education for ALL kids in Jeffco, inform the community on the current events, and to support a school board that understands the importance of educating ALL kids in Jeffco.