"We need Drury, we need the businesses around here, we need the parents" to help make a difference in the lives of young people.
Should the school board ever decide to rename Central High School - an unlikely prospect! - they might want to consider Cosmopolitan High School. CHS's student population includes those from low-income families, those with special education needs, gifted middle-school-aged students, and Springfield's largest group of minority students, at 22 percent of the student population. How do you meet the needs of such a diverse group? According to principal Everett Isaacs, a 22-year veteran of Springfield public schools, it takes a community.
Building that community is one goal in Central's partnership with Drury, Yale, Boyd/Berry Elementary School and Pipkin Middle School. Isaacs believes increased communication and understanding among parents and professionals will help them to better prepare students academically. Program facilitator Ali Traub is helping initiate those efforts, including a lunchtime faculty "book club" to discuss what teachers are learning from program-related materials.
Early efforts at increasing parent involvement already show marked success. Central's PTA membership was 60 when Central joined the partnership in 2000. This year it's 160.
Isaacs and Traub hope to include more of the Springfield community as well. There are many ways the community can help schools produce well-rounded citizens, they suggest, from supporting levies and bond issues to speaking at schools or offering internships. Students walked into some of that support in January, when a $22 million addition to CHS opened.
Isaacs says teachers "have a lot of weight on our shoulders to be as much as we can be - a guidance person, a teacher, an advisor, a confidant, a parent - to these kids," many of whom lack positive role models outside the school. "We need Drury, we need the businesses around here, we need the parents" to help make a difference in the lives of young people.
Making that difference is why Everett Isaacs loves being at Central. "I think we all want to make a difference," he adds, "but it takes lots of us." It takes a community working together.
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