Letters to the Editor

Community steps up for schools

Julian Crocker, San Luis Obispo County's superintendent of schools, in 2007.
Julian Crocker, San Luis Obispo County's superintendent of schools, in 2007. The Tribune

There are three partners that create student success: family, schools and community. If all partners are doing their job, then students are usually successful in school. How does a community do its part? Here are two real world examples of how our local “community” is stepping up to help our students.

College Night 2013:

On Nov. 4, the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County, with the help of the Cuesta College Foundation, hosted a free College Night for all students and families at Cuesta College. More than 600 local students from all high schools in the county attended this second year of the event.

This was a unique chance for students in our county to meet with representatives and advisers from more than 70 colleges and universities. Expensive visits to colleges are not possible for many families, and College Night brings the colleges to us. UC, CSU, independent colleges in California, California community colleges, out-of-state universities, vocational schools and military academies were represented. Local alumni also volunteered to represent their college or university. As a host at one table, I can testify to being very busy all evening.

College Night included workshops for students and parents on topics such as writing the admission essay; financial aid and scholarships; finding the right choice for you; and athletic recruiting realities.

This was an opportunity for middle school students to get an idea of the choices they have and why they need to start college planning early. Another local partner was the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority (SLORTA), which offered free bus service throughout the county to and from Cuesta College on that night. The Community Foundation is the largest single college scholarship provider in the county, and College Night is another way that it supports local students with college attendance.

Operation School Bell:

Operation School Bell is sponsored by the Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County and is another practical example of how the community helps our students to be successful in school.

Operation School Bell has the straightforward purpose of providing clothes for children and young people to wear to school. With more than 40 percent of our students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, many families cannot afford to buy new school clothes for their children each year.

The impact that having new clothes can have on a student’s self-esteem is remarkable. It often means that the child is not embarrassed by being different and is now ready to learn. I’ve heard amazing testimonials from children and teachers about what a difference new school clothes have made.

Operation School Bell is entirely run by volunteers (more than 15,000 hours last year) from the Assistance League. These volunteers take care of all tasks from raising the money, buying the clothes, staffing the movable “clothes closets” and accompanying older children to local stores to select clothes. Since 1996, Operation School Bell has served more than 17,000 local school children with 1,000 students already being clothed this year.

Bravo to these two examples of how our community steps up to help our students!

Julian Crocker is county superintendent of schools.