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Communities must help educate children
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While reading a recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I found a statement regarding school reform that provides advice about the importance of our educational system. It notes that “If schools don’t work, the city does not work.”
This statement places the focus of education on all stakeholders when developing our children to be successful in society. It is my belief that educating our youth is one of the most important duties of our society.  
This is part one of a three-part message reflecting my personal view of the elements, the necessity and the importance each role plays in such development and encouragement of the future of our youth. Though I by no means acknowledge having all the answers, I do know that I work every day to provide the best for our children.
As a former teacher and coach in our local school system, I acknowledge the fact that our schools have a major role in the economic and social development of our city and county. However, it takes more than our local schools to educate our youth. It takes a community that can provide a solid foundation with the support of health services, local businesses, social services, after-school programs, law enforcement and churches.
A committed group of caring parents, the mayor, the city council, the county commissioners and the school board working together is vital. Since our small community is divided into several smaller communities, all entities working toward the same goals in shaping our youth enhances student achievement and the educational system.
Shaping our schools to produce well-educated students is a joint effort that requires parental involvement, a highly qualified superintendent, a cohesive school board, a highly qualified staff and a dedicated community. I view the educational system in our community as having the design of a three-legged stool balancing and functioning as one unit to support its design — our children.
I will share my views on a support system, its importance, and how it will help our children. Please remember that these are my personal views and not those of the Liberty County School System or the members of the Board of Education.
I view the topics of head start, commitment, and motivation as the three elements vital to producing a well- rounded productive citizen. Since I am sure these are not unfamiliar words to you, I must ask you to do the following: view my concerns, lend your support for our most precious resources — our children, and ask yourself how you can help.
The first leg of the educational system starts at home with the parents and is viewed as Headstart. Parents are and will always be their child’s first teacher. Children watch their parents and often pattern their behavior after one or both parents. Respect is a behavior that is learned and earned. It should be taught at home and reinforced in our schools and community. By teaching children to respect authority, parents encourage them to listen, learn, and follow directions — skills which are required in every classroom, work place and in society. Parents and families play a major role in the support system for children.
Reading is one of the most important mastered skills needed in everyday living. Statistics show that parents who read to and with their young children often aid in the cognitive development of the brain. It is also noted that most children who witness their parents reading acquire a desire to do the same, which further affords the opportunity to increase knowledge. When knowledge is increased, the possibility of producing a productive citizen who can handle life’s challenges will increase. Developing an early learning process before starting school increases the opportunity for success and, in most cases, places a child ahead of the learning curve, which I view as “headstart.”
The Liberty County School System has several programs and specialists in place to aid our children and to assist parents. In addition to our regular, gifted and exceptional education teachers, our school system employs additional personnel to enhance the development of our best investment — our children.
The Liberty County School System has employed instructional coaches, parent involvement facilitators, parent mentors, reading remediation teachers, speech pathologists, social workers, graduation coaches, curriculum specialists, English language learner teachers and student support team coordinators. In addition, a transition coordinator has been employed to help our exceptional high school students transition from high school into college, technical school or the work force.
I encourage all Liberty County parents to take advantage of these resources. Supporting our children has never been more important than it is today. We must all be willing to do our part.

Baker is the Liberty County Board of Education chairwoman.
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