As we’ve all read about the incidents that have occurred at Chaska High School, it’s certainly disappointing.

I hope leadership in our school district and district communities come together and work with the community to address the issues and concerns that have been identified and restore trust that has been damaged.

COMMUNITY VALUES

Over 30 years ago, a large group of community members from across the cities of School District 112 met numerous times to identify and define a set of community values that could serve as the foundation on which to build our communities.

There was recognition that growth and change was going to occur in our cities, and the question was asked, “What will guide decisions and development?” Well, it only made sense that it needed to be a set of values, a belief system that guided future decisions, plans and overall development.

It was a matter of aligning community thinking and actions to those values. This is an approach embraced by successful businesses, so why not community development?

For many years these values were embraced. The values guided the work of building a community for all, which supported the vision for Chaska. Chaska and the school district still recognize these values, but to some extent they may have taken a backseat to other priorities.

When that happens, the guide is lost, the path becomes confusing, and other priorities take precedent. A new resolve needs to be demonstrated. When tough times occur, find and hang onto your values.

For people of faith, their belief system rises to the top and provides hope and possibility. The challenge of any organization is to anchor to a belief system, and the responsibility of leaders is to share the vision and values of their organization, their community, over and over again.

It is what sustains and builds healthy organizations over time, through challenging times and situations.

Share the vision, share the values and share the pride of who we are. It’s a powerful leadership message and hopefully one we all can embrace.

What we also need to remember is that we must invest and reinvest in our schools. Education can maximize a child’s potential and that is our strongest response to injustice and inequality.

TODAY

I actually believe that the situations we’re seeing can provide an opportunity to create experiences that will make our communities stronger.

Revisit these values and embrace the thinking that says “It takes a village to raise a child.”

It was encouraging to see the city of Chaska take the initiative and put out a message (via the mayor’s letter) that took a strong position addressing racism and bias. It has a plan to engage through the leadership of Chaska’s police chief, with experts to come in and lead a community discussion on this topic.

It’s a significant step in the right direction. This is work that takes commitment and leadership to model the way for others. It requires champions and cheerleaders for this work and a belief system that is embraced and, most importantly, where the actions align to and support the words.

If actions don’t support the words, credibility and trust will be lost. What is also so important in situations where sides have been taken, is the need to search for and find common ground on which to build or rebuild trust and agreement, and move forward to effectively address the issue.

If there’s no interest in finding common ground, sadly real solutions won’t be found.

FINALLY

Not a great experience, but I got an anonymous one page, all caps, double-spaced letter from a person that said the discussion of a community for all has led to the problems occurring at Chaska High School.

The letter from such a person, filled with hate and bias, represents the real issue and problem. I hope our community and all communities come together and respond together in an even stronger commitment to be a community for all and build an already strong education system even stronger.

It’s what most people want to be a part of — they want to live in community where we all look out for each other. I know I’ll never stop believing in the importance of that vision.

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor.

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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