Journey of a Superintendent: Collective Responsibility

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools“It takes a village to raise a child.” Too often, this phrase is spoken, without actions to back it up. A few months back, I watched an episode of “Harry’s Law” and heard Harriett, played by Kathy Bates, say, “It takes a village to raise a child, and it’s time for the village to step up!” She was speaking of the need for the community to provide guidance, to mentor, to instill the traditions and values of the community, and to offer true leadership in helping to raise our children and youth. To the writers of “Harry’s Law” this line was probably just a throw-away line. For me, on the other hand, the line is a powerful statement about the collective responsibility of all grown-ups to instill in our youth our beliefs and values, and to open doors so our children can realize the dreams of their futures.

October in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools was a textbook example of the community “stepping up.” The month was lead off by a groundbreaking celebration for the construction of a new public library that will serve the southern neighborhoods of our community. Construction of a new facility has been made possible through the commitment of a group of community volunteers who have worked tirelessly to raise funds in support of the school district and public library system. Many offer to assist in community efforts such as this, but this group is backing up the talk with hours of actions and efforts to move the need for a new library into the reality column.

Next up in October was the “What Are You Reading?” Celebration at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, which recognized 2,000 students committed to a life of learning and achieving through reading. We are so proud of these children and youth and all the volunteers and community leaders who made the “What Are You Reading?” program a tremendous success. As we came to our final inning of the month, the commitment to action and collective responsibility climaxed with the “United Way” campaign. It does indeed take a village to raise our children, and in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools we are stepping up and giving back. This year school, district employees, families and our students raised thousands of dollars for the United Way agencies in our community that, in turn, support our children and families with resources and services.

Collective responsibility? You bet, right here in Kansas City, Kansas. It takes a village … and we understand “it’s up to us.”

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