German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Great first year is first in STAY's longterm goal

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Ken Flower poses with his daughter, June, before walking her to school on the first day of classes.
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By Ken Flower
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We at Southside STAY have had to keep this in mind over the last year.

We have lofty goals. Long-term, we want to see every school in the South High Feeder Pattern (the academic pathway our neighborhood is part of) become an "A" rated school.

Rather than accepting that people leave our neighborhoods because of the quality of our schools, we want to STAY and support our schools and enable every child who attends them to reach their potential.

Southside STAY stands for Staying Together to Advance Youth.

We want to live in a vibrant, urban neighborhood where excellent public education is available for every child.

These are lofty goals, but we believe they can be achieved.

While we know that parental and community engagement in the schools is not the silver bullet that guarantees their improvement, it is certainly a crucial piece of the puzzle.

In light of what has already happened in just one year of working together, we're excited to see what can happen in 10 years.

Already, in less than one year, we are celebrating great success.

Our first step was to request that Stewart Alternative Elementary School (located in Beck Street Elementary School building while the Stewart building is being renovated because of a 2010 fire) be changed into a partial neighborhood/partial lottery school, guaranteeing spots for children in the neighborhood.

Two weeks ago, Columbus City Schools Superintendent J. Daniel Good announced the significant change would be made. Now, we are working with the amazing leadership and teachers of Stewart to help it become an "A" rated school.

My own involvement in STAY and its mission became very real for me when I dropped my daughter off at school for her second day of kindergarten.

This year, my wife and I decided to enroll our daughter in kindergarten at Stewart Elementary School.

From everything we have experienced, the leadership and teachers are amazing, dedicated people who care deeply about helping children learn.

As I walked my daughter to her classroom, I saw students who were eager to learn, teachers who were ready to teach, and a school buzzing with excitement.

Until this point, we were working to improve schools for names and faces we deeply cared about, but didn't really know.

Now when I think of our work with STAY, I see the face of my daughter and her new friends.

Moving forward in this next year, Southside STAY will continue to support Stewart Elementary and work towards an "A" rating.

However, we are also looking forward to growing partnerships with South High School, Fairwood Elementary, Lincoln Park Elementary, Livingston Elementary, Moler Elementary, Siebert Elementary, and Southwood Elementary.

While we celebrate what has already happened in just one year, let's keep a "10-year" view of what kind of change can happen in our neighborhood schools when we work together.

If this mission resonates with you, too, come meet parents and community members at the STAY Open House Sept. 21.

While you are marking your calendars, save the date for Oct. 10. We will be hosting Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Superintendent Good at our next large group meeting, and we need YOU there. Details can be found on our Facebook page: Facebook.com/SouthsideSTAY

Ken Flower, a member of Southside STAY, submitted the Village Notebook column.

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