Oregon Department of Education
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8/28/2006 8:00:00 AM
Superintendent Speech-Salem Community/School Partnership Recognition
Superintendent Susan Castillo

I would like to begin by thanking all those present tonight whose leadership and dedication has helped strengthen Salem’s community/school connection. Mayor Janet Taylor and the City of Salem and Superintendent Sandra Husk and the Salem/Keizer School District. Thank you for your ongoing support.

As community leaders, we often get caught up in dealing with the problems of the present, of the here-and-now. But good leaders understand we have a responsibility to the future, too. To preparing our young people for college, careers, and citizenship. America’s future holds a lot of promise and a lot of uncertainty. The world is changing with technology, globalization, and terrorism. The most important work we can do is to prepare the next generation to face future opportunities and challenges.

I know the saying has become a cliché, but it is true – it takes everyone in a community to raise a child. And nowhere is that more the case than right here in Salem.

I want to commend you on a job well done, for showing Oregon that when schools and the community partner together in meaningful ways, everybody wins.

This is the first time the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon League of Cities have come together to recognize and reward Outstanding Community/School Partnerships.

I want to put the spotlight on this kind of teamwork because I believe it is the model for how to do business as Oregon moves forward.

Salem is doing important work, but the good news is that we’re also recognizing amazing partnerships all over this state – in Forest Grove and Springfield, in Tillamook and Mollala.

What do all of you have in common? You are all focused on a mission and goals, you all involve diverse participants and partners, and you all have sustainable funding.

Most of all, you are all focused on children. Your partnership is integrated into your community, reflecting the needs and aspirations of the people you serve.

Let’s talk about just some of the wonderful things going on in Salem and the Salem-Keizer School District.

POWER, which stands for “Promote Outstanding Work, Education and Recreation,” gets middle schools kids all over this city involved with programs in partnership with city agencies, as well as community non-profit groups, local business, universities, and churches. More than 4,500 kids are involved, and the program is going strong.

I especially like that each POWER school gets to set its own agenda, so it really is grassroots. And the kids get to have fun as they learn, too. There’s break-dancing and robotics. Kids held a quiltathon to make pillows for heart patients. One school started a Japanese club. Willamette University students provide tutoring in math, reading, and science.

POWER takes the time to study data and look at outcomes, to hold yourselves accountable, and to make sure you are meeting the needs of the community. I’ve got to say, you know the way to my heart.

There are so many more examples of great community/school partnerships – Like the Salem Police Department’s BLAST camps, which bring together children and law enforcement in fun activities. And the REACH clubs that educate young people about the dangers of drugs through peer mentoring and skits that teach kids how to be cool and stay away from drugs. The list goes on. You don’t even need an acronym to make an impact. I know that the Salem Library works with teachers to develop book kits that directly connect with the school curriculum.

We know that learning takes place in many places, in many different ways, all through our lives. We have to be smart, flexible and committed to ensure that we are doing the right things that help our children succeed.

So thank you for all your hard work and leadership. Thank you for showing the way. For reminding us all that by working together, we can make anything possible.

Thank you for allowing me to be here today to celebrate your successful partnership. Keep up the great work!

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