While working toward my master's degree at Ohio State University in the mid-1990s, I read a book called "The Hundred Languages of Children" by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini and George Forman.
This is where I first learned about the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool and early childhood education.
One of the key principles of the Reggio Emilia approach is one that resonates with me today and aligns well with an African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.
The phrase expresses the belief that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.
The villagers look out for the children.
As I reflect on that key principle, I'm reminded of a 2008 Barack Obama quote in the Los Angeles Times: "I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together -- unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and may not come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction -- toward a better future for our children and our grandchildren."
Whitehall may be a city in the state's eyes, but it also is a small village of diverse residents, rich with varying beliefs, values and behaviors.
The challenges our children face are also diverse, and I am grateful for the many partnerships we have with people who engage in guidance and inspiration to help our young people succeed.
Whitehall City Schools has many examples of the community working together to solve the challenges our young people face today -- far too many to mention in this article.
However, I would like to focus on a unique initiative made possible by several community partners coming together to support our children and their families.
In the spring, Whitehall-Yearling High School will open a first-of-its-kind school-based health clinic in the central Ohio area.
This clinic will be funded entirely through grant dollars and private gifts, bringing tax dollars back to our schools. The construction cost to renovate the space is funded by a gift from the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, and the operational costs are covered by a Catalyst Grant made possible by the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services.
Physical-health services will be provided by Heart of Ohio Family Health Center; mental-health services will be provided by Ohio Guidestones. Both organizations are providing their services to the clinic at no cost to the district.
With the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, together we can improve the overall health of the community and build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
Brian Hamler is superintendent of Whitehall City Schools.