Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.

March included Education Support Professionals Week—a week honoring the many contributions that our 447 support professionals provide to our students.

This time of year is also a great opportunity to reinforce that education is first and foremost a “people business” built on meaningful relationships to foster student success.

Although their jobs do not require a teaching certificate, support staff members are essential partners in our educational programs. They provide service that covers nearly every aspect of the education and support given our students, their families, and our community.

These individuals keep our schools clean, our lawns mowed, and our children fed. Endless hours of classroom support are provided our students and their teachers, helping to fill opportunity and learning gaps. Our support professionals keep our technology running and serve the needs of our students, staff, families and community. They make sure our students have a secure and healthy environment in which they can learn. Our students are transported safely and given specialized care through the expert and selfless commitment of our education support professionals.

In our schools, we are all educators. We simply play different roles as we seek to provide the most responsive and effective education for the students we serve. As we offer a welcoming, safe environment at all our schools, it is essential that students have positive relationships with one or more adult role models. Connected students achieve at high levels, graduate more frequently, and have greater success once they leave high school.

Those connections can be with the persons in the classroom, the individual cleaning the corridors, the staff member in the career center or school office, the lady serving up lunch, or the bus driver who is the first and last “school” face seen during the week.

For many of our students, their families provide strong connections. Sadly, however, this is not the case for all of our students; they need an adult who takes an interest in their success in school and in life. That is part of the work we do—create student connectedness. It is key that our schools provide places where a student feels successful appreciated, and honored.
I would ask you to thank a school district employee that you might know. They are both contributing to our schools and contributing to our community as they live, work and shop in Longview. If you are so inclined, consider nominating a school staff member for the annual Crystal Apple Awards before nominations close on April 13.

I also urge each member of the Chamber of Commerce to also see yourselves as educators of our children. The example you provide, the support you demonstrate, and the love you share plays an integral role in shaping the lives and the future of the students of our community. Your encouragement, time, guidance, and kindness is an essential component in determining the quality of the education our children receive. Please reach out to a young person and ask them about their schoolwork and their interests. Your attention and concern can make a big difference.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our kids and our schools. We are all educators!