Plenty done, plenty ahead

Update from Greenfield Education Foundation

Good morning! The Greenfield Education Foundation (GEF) has been working hard for 3½ years on behalf of all students who attend the Greenfield schools.

Under the leadership of Dr. Susan Hollins, the schools have made tremendous improvements in curriculum, staff, teachers, Advance Placement courses, Science and Math Academy and just about everywhere else. We are most fortunate to have Dr. Hollins and her dedicated team.

When the GEF first started, the goal was to get interested people — who know how important it is to have a great school system — to join together and make a board of directors. People from the business community, the school system and the community at large all joined and offered ideas on how we could best help the students and the schools.

We all know, and you have heard it before, that good schools attract good students. With School Choice, students have options and we feel the Greenfield schools can compete and compete very well with all other schools. You read the MCAS report and it doesn’t sound all that good, but these are not great statistics as systematically categorizing by testing is not going to be the future for academia. It is obsolete and negative. Better to look at graduation rates and schooling after secondary school.

Our governor, Deval Patrick, knows how important K-12 schools need to be. He wants this state to be a national leader in education and work force development. We think he is on the right track. On another level, college and community colleges in this state are now under pressure to perform better, to involve work skills in the community, to have higher graduation rates and fill thousands of jobs that the skills need to be improved to compete.

In the next several years, I believe this state will be that education leader.

Here in Greenfield, we have leaders that care deeply about our schools, our students, their families and the opportunity for success for all. We all need access and excellence to compete, to survive and to prosper.

In three short years, the GEF has raised over $150,000 for direct spending to all schools and for all students. We are not done by any means, but progress being the most important product is in plain view at every school in Greenfield.

Every school gives us a list of items to seek funding. One example is clocks for the second-graders to learn to tell time. This may sound unusual but in this age of technology, every stove, microwave, television, etc., has a digital clock. One never can learn to tell time that way to grasp modern math needs. We have also provided funds for a Science and Math Academy for sixth- and seventh-graders, lab equipment for chemistry and physics, instruments and white shirts for the school band, flip cameras for film production and athletic uniforms for sports teams. We have spent thousands of dollars rebuilding school libraries, theater, art, and music programs ... and the list goes on.

In a few short years, we will have a state-of-the-art high school. This will be a tremendous boost to the community. Our students and students at all public schools need and deserve the very best possible in education. We have an obligation to provide access and excellence for all students. The work force and job skills necessary in the future are to be very different than today. To invest in the future is always smart and always proves to be sound decision-making. All the changes in the work force create so many new and exciting opportunities that we sometimes cannot quite grasp at first, but soon realize that change is good, healthy and productive.

Good schools attract good students. Businesses want to grow and prosper where good education opportunities can be met. With all this said, I hope all the business men and women, and all people who care about our schools and our community will support the Greenfield Education Foundation this year. The GEF is a nonprofit served by all volunteers. Because the foundation has no office, no employees, and extremely minimal expenses, close to 100 percent of donations go directly to our schools. (Our mailing address is Greenfield Education Foundation, P.O. Box 702, Greenfield, MA 01302-0702)

We thank you again and again for investing in the student’s future, our future and for the betterment of all who choose public education.

Robert S. Cohn is president of the Greenfield Education Foundation.

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