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The power of community

Some of our community's best educational moments happen outside the classroom, when citizens come together to make learning fun and memorable for children.

Recently, a group of people organized an "I Love to Read Day" event at the Gary-New Duluth Recreation Center. They invited Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, Police Chief Mike Tusken, myself and others to read to students from Stowe Elementary. Children received books to keep, explored the inside of a police cruiser and had snacks while families learned more about the great things happening at the Rec Center.

As a child, I attended Stowe and took part in Rec Center activities. I have fond memories of the building, grounds and the services provided. The Rec Center is a great example of people working collaboratively for the benefit of all. Through their efforts they've taken steps to refurbish the building, build a garage and install a large pavilion and soccer fields. Work continues on a skate park and a dog park. While these amenities are a great benefit to the neighborhood, it's the connection with other people and the sense of community that comes from these amenities that hold the true power to create change.

That power of community can apply to educational achievement. Children across our country and right here in Duluth experience different levels of success in school and in life. We see evidence of that in achievement scores, graduation rates and success with college and career. Some gaps are apparent from the first day a student comes to school.

As a community, we can work together to help close those gaps. When children have access to activities such as athletics, music, literature and opportunities to learn new vocabulary and skills, they achieve at higher levels. Much like they have at Gary-New Duluth Rec Center, we can work together to provide children with opportunities to learn, play and experience more from an early age.

In Duluth, people and organizations have begun the important work of expanding early learning for students and families. By reaching out to young families and ensuring that all students have opportunities to engage in enriching activities from an early age, we can make a difference in closing gaps before they appear. There are many ways for each of us to be involved — mentor a child, donate funds for activity fees, provide music lessons, coach a team, lead a scouting group — all the while reaching out to children and students who otherwise might not have that experience.

Our children, schools and community will have a stronger future with your involvement.

Bill Gronseth

Bill Gronseth is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at (218) 336-8752 or email william.gronseth@duluth.k12.mn.us.

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