Community contributions provide exceptional learning experiences

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | 9:13 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Educating our children is so much more than scores on state tests. Yes, we want our children to perform well on standardized assessments. More than this, we want our children to perform well in every part of their lives. When children are totally engaged in their learning, their achievement soars. Children experience learning through their senses: They need to see it, hear it, feel it, taste it and move with it. Learning is best when skill acquisition seamlessly blends with inspiration. When the community and the public schools get together, good things happen to inspire children to apply their new skills in real ways.

This past week the blues musician T.J. Wheeler was the artist in residence at Grant Elementary School. Every child became a blues musician by playing drums, tambourines, cowbells, washboards and even kazoos to learn the songs and history of the blues. Our Partner in Education of 25 years, Boone County National Bank, sponsored this opportunity for a second year. This generous gift came full circle when our children gave back to the community by performing at the Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival. For Columbia Public School children, our Partners in Education provide the extras to educate our children in exceptional ways and we are grateful for their commitment to education.

Let's talk: Columbia and the presidency

The United States will go to the polls to elect a new president on Nov. 4. Before we go to the polls, let's have a conversation about how our lives here in mid-Missouri will be impacted.

Tell us: How will Columbia be affected by the next president?

Submissions will be printed at and in the Missourian during the week of Oct. 19. All we ask is that you sign your name and provide a telephone number (not printed; just there in case we have a question).

To send in your submission:

FAX: 882-5702
Postal delivery: Letter to Editor, P.O. Box 917, Columbia, MO 65205

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Another example of impressive community support is the newly constructed EcoSchoolhouse at Grant Elementary School. This project started as a proposal from Nick Peckham and PWA Architects to celebrate 30 years in business. A state of the art sustainable building now replaces the mobile classroom destroyed by a fire. It is Columbia's own phoenix rising from the ashes. More than 100 businesses and their employees donated designs, materials and labor to build the EcoSchoolhouse. This environmentally friendly classroom is a living testament to the "can do" spirit of our citizens in Columbia to support education. Our children and staff are learning about sustainable building and living through the EcoSchoolhouse project and are "going green at Grant" to use our resources wisely. We will share our classroom and our new knowledge with the community as a way to say thank you to all of the volunteers who made this project possible. The EcoSchoolhouse is possible because of the volunteers working hand in hand with Columbia Public Schools to create exceptional experiences for children.

Columbia is known for its strong support of public education because what is good for our children's education is very good for Columbia. We want our children to have the highest quality education so that they can give back one day to the community as informed citizens. As Peckham says, "Everything we do for children counts double" — now and in the future. Our children will remember these enriching experiences long past their childhood and, in turn, will support the same kind of giving back to the community as adults.

An artist in residence, an EcoSchoolhouse — that's almost as good as it gets. What would be even better? If all public school children could experience that same level of community spirit. Be a mentor, plant flowers in a school garden, share your expertise in a classroom, build a bench for a school, or donate money so that an artist in residence can lead a new project. Columbia citizens investing their time and talents in our public schools — now that is as good as it gets.

Beverly J. Borduin is the principal at Grant Elementary School

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