COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools asked a new question of the community at the World Cafe public forum Tuesday night — can we Strive?
The district wanted community feedback to see if the Strive Network program would be a right fit for Columbia and if it could help the district meet common community goals.
A "cradle-to-career" initiative, Strive is a program that brings together leaders in education, government and the community to prepare children for school from the time they are born until they are ready for a career.
About 200 members of the community gathered at Stoney Creek Inn to discuss their opinions about the Strive framework.
Strive Network managing director Jeff Edmondson started off the forum by explaining the Strive approach and what implementing it could mean for Columbia.
"Imagine if a teacher could open up and look at Johnny and see how Johnny has performed academically over time and also see all of his social supports and nonprofit supports," Edmondson said. "Imagine if the teacher could pull that up and then have someone in the community whose job it was to make sure the kids who were flagged as having trouble actually got the support services they needed."
After Edmondson's discussion, the participants split up into smaller round-table groups to come up with questions about the project, possible obstacles of instituting Strive and the potential steps the district could take to make Columbia a Strive community.
"Are we meeting early childhood needs?" Paul Prevo, owner of Tiger Tots Child Development Center, said in one group discussion. "It's finding children that need extra help before they become part of the system."
The discussion from Thursday's meeting will be used by the school district as it decides whether or not to implement Strive into the school system, Sally Beth Lyon, chief academic officer for the district, said.
The first World Cafe was held in 2009, which took in community feedback to create Columbia Public Schools' Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. The previous World Cafe on Oct. 12 discussed a projected deficit for the district caused by rising enrollment and lowered federal and state financial aid.
— Missourian reporter James Ayello contributed to this report.