Excellent urban school options are each resident's responsibility.

Excellent urban school options are each resident's responsibility.

One beautiful spring morning at Schiller Park last week, I watched my 18 month old, play with three other girls her age on the awesome new playground equipment.

I marveled that I have known all of the girls since they were infants because as German Village neighbors we share a few sacred, urban greenspaces. It was a coincidence that we were all there at the same time that day.

In secret toddler code, I watched the girls line up like little ducks and waddle up the sledding hill, now green with grass.

They made their way down the hill, then turned and found their way back up again. Each girl took turns leading.

I found this to be very poetic and imagined them continuing to follow each other and lining up to start their first day of school together across the park at Stewart Elementary School -- the oldest school building in the Columbus City Schools district.

On the way home from the park we ran into two more neighborhood family friends with young children.

The older my daughter gets and the more invested our family becomes in relationships here, the more committed I become in helping our city schools be a reflection of its residents.

Our children are urban children, but that doesn't mean we should have to sacrifice a free, excellent, and public education to live here.

It doesn't mean that we have to live with anxiety over where to send our children to school.

It certainly doesn't mean that we have to move away to the suburbs to find excellent schools.

Excellent schools are born from excellent communities.

The only way we are going to make a change in our schools is if we make a stand together and be part of a solution.

As community members, we are as responsible for excellently rated schools as are the teachers and principals who work in them; as are the parents of every child who attends the schools; as are the businesses in our community; and as are our government officials.

I am optimistic thinking about that day in the park.

I'm sure some will move away for one reason or another, but I hope most of us stay. I hope for my family to have a part in continuing the rich history of German Village.

Let us commit to each other, to our children, and to each other's children. Only with loyalty to our community, will we make meaningful changes in our schools.

Join us for our next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 1 in the German Village Meeting Haus.

To see the changes we've recommended to Columbus City Schools, visit southsidestay.org. To learn how you can help, follow Southside STAY on Facebook.

Southside STAY Chairwoman Jessica Bennett submitted the Village notebook column.