Marylin Colyar, Gig Harbor
“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” This famous proverb suggests that the upbringing of children is a communal effort. In addition to parents, children need a rich tapestry of people in their lives: aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, siblings, teachers and caring, nurturing adults who help create relationships, caring circles and safe spaces.
I have been fortunate in my life to have experienced such villages, and so have most of you. We have memories of our own school days, where those who went before us paved the way for us to succeed, to grow, to experience the exhilaration of learning to read, of looking through a microscope for the first time, of playing clarinet in the band or mastering a math problem.
We, those who vote in the Peninsula School District, are the village for the nearly 9,000 students who are enrolled in our schools. It is now our responsibility as villagers to provide safe, updated schools for these 9,000 in our care.
I have spent my life in schools, as a student, a teacher, an administrator, and now, as a university supervisor for student teachers, two of whom are assigned to Peninsula schools. I have supervised student teachers in a number of neighboring districts: Auburn, Bonney Lake, Sumner, Puyallup, South Kitsap and Central Kitsap. I experience classrooms in nearby districts nearly every day.
It saddens me that our neighboring districts have facilities that make Peninsula’s schools look sadly deficient. Central Kitsap, for example, has renovated many of their schools, creating amazing, inviting and safe learning places for students. Next fall, students and teachers at Olympic High School in Silverdale will return to a fully modernized facility.
Because of the rapid growth in their student population, Bonney Lake is building new schools and renovating others. Bonney Lake High School, built in 2005, is a state-of-the art facility, and the district is now building a new Performing Arts Center and a stadium. Why? Because the village obviously cares deeply about their children.
It has been many years since my own children were in public school. In May, my youngest grandchildren will graduate from public schools, including one from Peninsula High School. Because I am a member of this village and I believe the education and nurture of children is the sacred responsibility of every person in the village, I will happily vote in favor of April’s $220-million Capital Facilities Bond.
Peninsula schools are overcrowded, with 25 percent of the instruction in elementary schools taking place in portable classrooms which cannot be adequately secured. The infrastructures are outdated and, in some cases, unsafe. Roofs leak and HVAC systems are breaking down. In two more years, 22 additional classrooms will be needed to house the growing student population.
These 9,000 kids need every member of the village as we work together to create spaces where teachers can fully make use of the best practices in education. Our schools should be a place where every student can enter into an inviting, safe space daily as they prepare to navigate an increasingly complex, difficult world. Together we can be that caring village, that community where kids, their education and our future matter. “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” We are that village.
This is a transcript originally published in the News Tribune.