One of the cornerstones of a healthy community is a strong education system.

A strong education impacts a community in so many ways. One of the key ways is the staff — the teachers that each and every day impact the students and their families. They mentor, coach, entrust and, at times, are a voice for the student when needed.

They care and make a difference at every level of the community, without a lot of recognition and fanfare. Educators are simply builders of community!

The quality of education in District 112 is significant. It is creative, innovative and respected by those that work in the education field.

Our communities have invested in education in the past, and hopefully will continue, because we are talking about our future — our students.

CHANGE

In so many ways we have all experienced change and are guaranteed to experience change as we look to the future.

When we look at community and what that means, we must always look at what influences change and what can we expect. It’s the discussion involved in strategic thinking and planning.

Well, change has impacted education, and will continue to do so with the impact of technology, but also as students face family and economic pressures.

Students today are influenced in widely different ways that must be recognized and addressed. Maybe more than ever we need to support the thinking of ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’

No longer can communities think in a silo mentality, that compartmentalizes the development of our youth. We no longer can say it’s the function of a school district only.

Now we must ask how to collaborate and partner in a positive way that delivers healthy graduates and helps build healthy communities. That is the question for leadership and must be supported by demonstrating good leadership actions and behaviors that care about, and are inspiring to, both students and staff alike.

SENIOR PROJECT

There are a couple of experiences I wanted to share with you regarding our Chaska High School seniors. I had the chance to spend time and talk to some seniors about life and work experiences.

It was hopefully a positive experience for the students, one that may have provided some perspective as they look ahead to what their futures might hold for them. It was an inspiring experience for me to meet these young people who are the future of our communities.

They were engaging and interested and they wanted to learn and do good. They had plans and they had energy for what might lie ahead, that in cases might feel daunting. But I wanted them to know that you don’t need to travel alone. Beyond your parents and those who you love, you also have teachers who have spent time with you and care about you, and you have people in the community that will be there for support also.

Investing in these young people is investing in the future of our communities and our country. They are the ones who will sustain the caring attitude and the servant mentality that seems to be slipping into the background of communities.

Again, this was an inspiring experience that reinforced to me that our future as a community is bright.

NEW BEGINNINGS

A program that is offered out of the SouthWest Metro Intermediate District 228 is New Beginnings, which provides support to single young moms, enabling them to complete their high school education and prepare them for a positive future for their family.

I had a chance to attend this years graduation of five young women, along with good friends Chad and Kristi Dockter.

Along with hearing some heartfelt stories and experiences, there also was the opportunity to provide checks to New Beginnings, including one from Chaska Rotary for $22,000 that will allow programs to continue and in some cases expand.

Hats off to Sue Schmidt, who heads up this program and has done so for years. Sue is a wonderful community partner and collaborator, who also is building community.

Congratulations and best wishes to the graduates on their significant achievement.

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor.

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Staff Reporter

Alex Chhith is a staff reporter at the Chaska Herald. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dogs (Cody and Sam), catching up on the Game of Thrones and finding new restaurants. Follow her on Twitter @AlexChhith.

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