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Education summit to engage Waco community

Nov. 9, 2010

By Carmen Galvan
Staff Writer

The Greater Waco Community Education Alliance will host its third education summit at the Waco Convention Center beginning Nov. 17. The three-day conference will focus on building relationships at home and within the community in order to improve education, said Virginia DuPuy, executive director of the alliance.

"As we pulled people together to get a good understanding of how our children are engaged in the community, we grew into a decision to go ahead and establish an initiative," said Leah Jackson, associate dean at the Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center. "We ended up coming up with a plan, the summit, three years ago and essentially we came up with ways to learn and do what we can to ensure they are prepared and pursue their postsecondary education. Everything we've been doing is to engage the community; we must look at the whole education system and how it will affect community."

The primary goal of the initiative, which will take 15 to 20 years to fully implement, is to demonstrate the responsibility of the community to share in the education of its citizens through education programs and by supporting the needs of others with understanding.

"The initiative is to develop the understanding that every citizen shares the responsibility of the education of every citizen," DuPuy said. "A higher level of education creates a better prepared work force that, as a result, improves the learning capacity and the quality of life for all its citizens."

DuPuy said she hopes to create this understanding by building partnerships within the community.

"Our focus this year is building partnerships at home," DuPuy said. "The overall interest is to encourage the building of partnerships, tutoring and working with the different schools, with Communities in Schools, Baylor University and the Baylor School of Education. We are utilizing the rich resources of our community to stimulate different areas of work in our community."

The summit is an opportunity for members of the community to come together and share ideas to either improve existing or to create new programs, DuPuy said. The programs must also be designed with the intent to improve education based on the eight assumptions of the alliance.

"The alliance is really all about ensuring that the education efforts out there are making measurable changes and that they are meeting one of those assumptions," Jackson said.

Each of the assumptions are based on a different stage of a child's growth, ranging from age 0 to 19 and above. The assumptions were created in order to equip students for meaningful work as adults, according to the 2010 Greater Waco Community Education Summit program.

The first of the assumptions is that children between the ages of 0 and 4 will develop learning readiness and social skills before entering school.

The second assumption is that students from the ages of 5 to 8 will be able to read at their expected grade level by third grade, and the third is that students between 9 and 14 will master math concepts in order to develop their career path.

The fourth assumption is to help students between 13 and 16 become aware of and plan for higher education, followed by the fifth assumption where students between 13 and 19 are expected to graduate and are optimistic about completing high school.

The sixth assumption is that students between 13 and 19 develop a plan for accessing financial resources to reach education goals.

The seventh assumption is that students between 17 and 19 graduate well prepared for careers and college education

The final assumption is that students over the age of 19 will succeed in reaching post-high school education goals and will continue their education success.

DuPuy and Jackson said that programs developed by participants during the summits have included programs such as the Best Practices Reading Program sponsored by the Greater Waco Community Education Alliance. The program places volunteers at community schools to tutor students and guide them in reading, which helps fulfill the second assumption of reading on grade level.

The summit, which will take place at the Waco Convention Center from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19, is open to the public and will feature speakers from The Boeing Co., Birth2Work, a nonprofit organization created by citizens for the work force and the future, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.