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  • Writer's pictureLeAnn Wood

A Day in the Life: Perspectives from the Back Row

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

10:00 Davis High PTA Meeting

Leadership minute "Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be." Rita F. Pierson, Educator

This year I signed up to run the local Battle of the Bands competition. Honestly, it was like the only thing left on the list and I don't even have a band kid. But about 7 years ago, I chaired the multi-region BOB concert. 12-13 schools competing from Logan to Salt Lake City. It was held at Davis High School and I could not believe the gratitude that came from the participants. I don't think there was one band member that didn't stop me and thank me for providing an opportunity for them to share their talents and perform in front of an audience. I kind of got a soft spot for those garage band kids, so I'm doing it. I don't have a clue how to put on a local BOB competition, but that's the nice thing about PTA, there's somebody who will help me make it happen so students can shine.

Left early to get to the next meeting -

11:07 - Tour of Northridge High Teen Center

Did you know that there are over 1300 homeless kids in Davis School District and 14,000 that are in some kind of at-risk situation? Jodi Lunt, DSD Foundation Director introduced us to the directors there at the center and they shared their experiences. We have students sleeping in cars, we have students working two jobs so they can pay rent so they don't get kicked out of their home. We have multiple families experiencing food insecurity. Jody's belief: every person deserves to be fed, to be clean, and to be safe. How else can they learn? The teen center was a beautiful example of providing a space of dignity. Two shower/bathroom areas with necessary hygiene supplies, a trio of washer and dryers, two study rooms, a kitchen with snacks, and a hang out area, attached to a community food pantry. Please watch this video and have your heart touched by the things these students are going through. Give Hope. The video is a compilation of true stories from our students in crisis. I am grateful that there's a movement in our communities to reach out to those that might need a little extra help so they can break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and live meaningful productive adult lives.

1:00 Heading to South Salt Lake

2:00 Virtual Meeting to set up registration for Utah PTA Advocacy Conference I love this conference. I currently chair a committee of Utah PTA commissioners and specialists who focus on the health, safety, and education of all children. Each year we put on a conference discussing the most important needs of Utah's children. This year's conference will be on November 9, 2022 and the theme is "Strong Families Build Strong Students''. Come and listen to JD Barnes, from the BYUtv series, Relative Race, and Dr. Ali Crandall, BYU professor, talk about creating family connections, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Counter Aces, and then choose two classes from topics on community resources, digital wellness, mental health strategies, Utah Standards, family engagement, and positive civic engagement. Registration is LIVE now at Utah PTA Advocacy Conference 2022. Only $15 (for PTA members) and includes lunch.

3:00 Promise Partnership Regional Council

For about 6 years, I've served on the PPRC as a community representative. This council is overseen by United Way and is a partnership among community groups, education leaders, elected officials, and businesses. Their vision is to create a community where every person can achieve their potential. I love this group of people. It's the only place in the education sphere that I have been in where they use business language regarding education goals. It's been interesting to see businessmen come in and think that there is an easy solution, only to find that you are dealing with children and families and it's not as easy to move the needle as they believed. I do love that they are data driven and seek for incremental improvements in the areas of health, financial stability, early childhood education, literacy and math, and secondary readiness. Today we heard from the mayors of Millcreek and South Salt Lake talk about forming Promise Communities. These communities have looked at the needs of their residents and using the various partnerships have created data driven solutions like increased access to preschool or afterschool networks.

We also celebrated the Promise Partnership's designation as the first StriveTogether Systems Transformation partnership in the nation. I participated in one of the focus groups through StriveTogether as they were assessing the Promise Partnership System. I was proud to talk about my work as the Utah PTA Education Commissioner. I served as a member of the Early Reading Network of PPRC. While there I learned about dyad reading, a system where students of different proficiency levels are partnered together and read aloud at the same time. The data shows that this system increases proficiency for both students. I invited a specialist from USBE to teach the system to parents at the Utah PTA Leadership Convention. One of the parent volunteers took the information back to her school and began a summer reading program in partnership with their community library. Parents and students would come to the school once a week and use dyad reading. It was amazing to see all the right partnerships work together.

I kind of felt like I was coming full circle for the day - after touring the teen center and listening to the work being done through the PPRC networks, I was able to appreciate how many people truly care about the education of all students in Utah.

5:30 Off to Ogden

6:30 Dinner Discussion: What Happens Next with Education

Jenny Earl invited me to a discussion with Joe Kerry, candidate for State School Board District 2, and many of his constituents. His lovely mother fixed a traditional Korean dinner for us and then he had invited a select group of very diverse members of his community to talk about their educational experiences. He focused on the group’s understanding of charter schools and the options available to them. It was interesting to hear the various opportunities that parents have taken for their children, from STEM schools to Winter Sports, from traditional public schools to private schools. My youngest son participated in Mountain Heights Academy Charter School for two years during his junior high years. It was a very positive experience for him. I learned that in order to meet the needs of our individual students, sometimes we have to think differently about schooling. As the Board promotes Personal Competency Based Learning (PCBL) I think we will see many things have to change about how education is administered in the future.

9:00 Head back to Kaysville! Thank goodness I have an amazing husband who listened to on overview of my day for the next hour (or so ... ).

I love that the day started out with the thought that every child deserves a champion. I saw a lot of champions throughout my day that are truly working through the barriers to learning that impede the learning of our children. I am working to be one of those champions.

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