Education is the fuel of our economic engine and the basis for our success as a democracy.
Whether or not you have school-age children, your community’s classrooms should be of interest to you, and you have a right and a duty to know what is happening in our public schools.
On March 5, my Leadership Centre County classmates and I spent the day learning about education and developing an understanding of how our schools are inspiring children to become active and engaged citizens.
In small groups, we visited the county’s five school districts and became acquainted with elementary and secondary classrooms, charter and traditional public schools, and college-oriented and workforce curricula.
I had the pleasure of spending the morning at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, a career and technical education facility that provides job training for high school students and returning adults.
CPI prepares graduates for immediate employment in such diverse fields as phlebotomy, culinary arts, graphic design, HVAC and landscaping, to name a few. To help fund its state-of-the-art campus, which includes everything from dental facilities to high-tech CDL simulators, CPI has created partnerships with industry and expanded its adult, postsecondary offerings, which are tuition-based.
During my visit, I saw the value CPI’s programs offer to our community’s students, their future employers and our economy as a whole. CPI’s administrators are ever watchful of the changing face of our local economy and work to stay a step ahead.
To this end, CPI is launching a capital campaign to help fund the expansion of its training programs in health, hospitality and emerging energies.
British poet William Butler Yeats is credited with saying, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
I saw this on full display at CPI. And when my LCC classmates who had visited other schools reconvened at the end of the day, I learned that this principle is on display all over Centre County.
Throughout the day, I was struck by the enthusiasm with which local educators spoke about their vocation.
From Park Forest Elementary Principal Donnan Stoicovy to Penn State education professor Jim Nolan, our educators revealed that they are constantly reading the latest research into brain development and learning and are eager to incorporate these findings into classroom instruction.
They do it with a firm belief that public education is the best preparation for democratic life and a resource to which every child has a right.
Our schools provide a valuable public service and kindle a special flame in each child. Whether or not you have children in our public schools, you are a keeper of this flame and your engagement with the public school system is important.
There are many ways to become engaged and help shape the lessons our children learn.
Attend school board meetings. Vote on important education-related issues. Donate time, goods or money to supplement the resources provided by tax dollars.
And, most importantly, support your local educators. Although we are the keepers of the flame, it is the teachers we trust every day to provide the spark that will ensure lifelong curiosity and investigation.
It is the teachers we trust to stretch beyond the mere sharing of facts to the igniting of a flame that will burn bright in each of our children.
It is a flame of hope for the future, a flame of desire for knowledge. It is a flame that will light our path for generations to come, and we are all part of the fuel that will sustain it.
Susanna Paul is the development and community relations coordinator at Housing Transitions Inc. and a member of the Leadership Centre County Class of 2014. For more information about Leadership Centre County, go to www.leadershipcentrecounty.org.