What many in our community now realize, is that public schools provide far more than academic instruction.  They provide two meals of daily nutrition for all students.  Our schools also provide mental health support for many students who experience social and emotional challenges.  These supports are important building blocks for learning and demonstrate schools’ focus on all aspects of child development.

 

APRIL COMMUNITY HEROES – Our NWLA Public School Superintendents

Step Forward’s Community Heroes for April are our Northwest Louisiana Public School Superintendents – Mr. Mitch Downey (Bossier Public Schools), Dr. Lamar Goree (Caddo Public Schools), Mr. Clay Corley (DeSoto Public Schools), and Mr. Johnny Rowland (Webster Public Schools).  These education leaders have provided strategic direction and leadership during this unanticipated community crisis caused by COVID-19.  With very little advance notice, they were charged with reinventing educational services for approximately 75,000 students in Northwest Louisiana, moving from schoolhouse instruction to virtual home learning literally overnight.

What many in our community now realize, is that public schools provide far more than academic instruction.  They provide two meals of daily nutrition for all students.  Our schools also provide mental health support for many students who experience social and emotional challenges.  These supports are important building blocks for learning and demonstrate schools’ focus on all aspects of child development. Amazingly, our districts have continued to provide these important services, despite the closure of school buildings.

Our schools have evolved with lightning speed.  Each of our districts have created plans for grade-specific academic instruction and have provided digital devices for home learning.  Each district has set up food distribution sites for families to pick up student meals which are an important supplement to the food supply in many households.

Yet, providing these services remotely creates barriers for many students who are disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19.  Impoverished families may lack technical equipment, digital connectivity, or transportation to pick up meals at distribution sites.  The ability of school districts to meet student needs is now completely dependent upon their ability to reach and inform parents. When families re-locate or have cell phone service disconnected, this contact may be impossible.

Our committed educational leaders are working hard to address and overcome these challenges.  They are working to reach students, identify needs, and provide essential supports.  These community heroes, Superintendents Downey, Goree, Corley, Rowland and their teams, are facing these challenges head on and working to ensure success for every child.