Elkhart schools hopes to rally support from community groups
Posted: 03/07/2013 at 1:00 pm
By: Marlys Weaver-Stoesz
Click here to view in a gallery.
Kobi Stutsman, 8, sets up his lemonade stand with help from Justin Stutsman, his father, Julia Tibbets, his father's girlfriend, and Rachel Cook, his grandmother, during the judging for Lemonade Day at Concord Mall on Thursday, May 3, 2012. (Truth Photo By Delayna Earley)
Elijah Wiswell, 11, prepares a sign on his lemonade decanter at Wellfield Botanic Gardens Saturday morning as part of Elkhart's First Lemonade Day. Wiswell, who was one of some 500 local kids participating in the event, had one of three stands at Wellfield, which was also hosting the Tulips & Tunes Outdoor Marketplace & Festival. (Truth Photo By Mark Shephard)
Harrison Harte, 9, watches the proceedings Saturday morning at his lemonade stand on Jackson Boulevard as part of Elkhart's First Lemonade Day. His grandfather Denny Bender helped drive traffic to Harrison's business venture, which also received an assist from visitors to a family garage sale. (Truth Photo By Mark Shephard)
Ja'Vona Emerson, 12, and Aolani Stane, 15, enjoy strawberries while their friend from the Tolson Center, Gladys Leon, 10, looks over signs at their Sunny-Side Lemonade stand on Elkhart Civic Plaza as part of Elkhart's First Lemonade Day Saturday. (Truth Photo By Mark Shephard)
“If you think about public education, if you start in 1910, decade after decade, legislation is passed, things happen that increase the demands on our schools,” Elkhart Superintendent Rob Haworth said. Those responsibilities include not only academic, but social and medical ones as well. “We’re up to taking that challenge, but we only have 180 days, and in those 180 days, we only have seven hours.”
During the summit, Haworth spoke in more detail to the group about some of those challenges. Paul Baldwin, a local pastor, spoke to the group about his work with Help With Love, an initiative started in Mishawaka that helps churches partner with local schools in providing tutors, mentors, care kits and whatever a particular school may need. Elkhart Community Schools representatives also shared about particular ways organizations can get involved with the school system, including the 2013 Lemonade Day program, Elkhart schools’ volunteer program and by hosting a summer food program site.
Elkhart already does a great job of having non-profits work with schools, Haworth said, but asked people to think about how to take that collaboration even further.
At the end of the program, Haworth asked those at the summit to fill out a card stating if they were interested in joining in the effort and listing what youth programs their group already offers and what issues they see as the greatest ones facing local kids.
Haworth said his staff will assemble all of the responses and work with the groups to prioritize needs. Then, those involved will develop an action plan on how to address those needs.
Several local non-profit leaders were excited about what could come out of the initial event.
“I think it was a great morning,” Haworth said, “but it’s only a start. How do we address a challenge and come back in a year and say ‘this summit made a difference and here’s how we know it made a difference.’”
He hopes this was the first of many annual youth summits focused on working together for local kids.
“We would like to be able to work together,” he told the group. “How do we make schools that are in Elkhart, Elkhart Community Schools?”