Vail Daily column: Strong schools are important to the community | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Strong schools are important to the community

Kids are back in school, and our educators are back at work filling these young brains with skills and knowledge that will serve them well now and into the future.

We're fortunate to have a strong school system, both public and private, serving the needs of both primary and secondary education. Most would agree (who wouldn't?) that education and a great school system is important to a community — it's a key in workforce retention and attraction, and it's key for our kids and families. It is hard to succeed in life without a strong educational foundation.

I am not saying that an uneducated person has no chance of being successful, or conversely that an educated person will surely do well in life; there are plenty of exceptions to both of these and an education (or lack of) hardly guarantees your place in life. However, it is safe to say that an educated person gets better opportunities in life. It is easier for them to become successful and realize their dreams.

CREATING OPPORTUNITIES

We're fortunate that our schools in Eagle County are doing their part to create these opportunities for our students.

The mission of Eagle County Schools is perfectly aligned with the concept of education as a tool for strong communities. The mission of our school district is to teach the children of Eagle County to have creative and active minds, show compassion for others, enthusiasm for lifelong learning and the courage to act on their dreams. They "get it" and are preparing our kids for the opportunities ahead.

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The vision of our school district is to prepare all of our students to be internationally competitive graduates, who will be successful in their careers or college experience and contribute to their communities in positive and effective ways. I'm most impressed at the recognition of the role schools play in shaping future leaders in the community.

Thanks to the faculty and staff at our schools across the valley, students in Eagle County are taught to develop high expectations of themselves as meaningful and productive members of our community. This is an important consideration as technology continues to change at a rapid rate and the jobs that our students will most likely have upon graduating college likely aren't even imagined yet.

Speaking of college, we're also fortunate to have Colorado Mountain College. CMC aspires to be the most inclusive and innovative student-centered college in the nation, elevating the economic, social, cultural and environmental vitality of our beautiful Rocky Mountain communities. This vision statement is purposeful, powerful and, maybe most importantly, tied to community. A key component to the community connection is the affordability that CMC offers to our local students.

In fact, Colorado Mountain College recently announced that in a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, CMC ranked third in the United States for lowest tuition among public four-year institutions, behind Dine College and Haskell Indian Nations University. This is the third year in a row CMC has been ranked among the country's most affordable colleges by the U.S. Department of Education, and they are the only Colorado school listed among the country's most affordable four-year institutions. CMC now has four-year degrees in five areas: sustainability studies, business, nursing, teacher education and applied science.

PREPARING OUR STUDENTS

In a recent Vail Daily column, Dr. Jason Glass stated, "Putting the student at the center of their own learning is one of the major educational transformations happening in our schools today. But, this is not easy work. Practically everyone involved in the educational process, from students to teachers to parents — as well as many so-called education experts — are very used to and comfortable with the model of the teacher being in control and delivering education to the students, pouring knowledge like water into empty vessels."

This aligns nicely with the idea that educating our students isn't necessarily about historical dates and figures, but rather with the idea that our job is to prepare our students how to be critical thinkers and how to best prepare our students for a lifetime of being contributors to the community.

Eagle County Schools and Colorado Mountain College (along with our private and parochial schools) are doing just that, and it creates opportunities not just for our students but also for our communities moving forward. As kids are back in school, special thanks to our school leaders, our elected school board and to our teachers, facility and staff. By guiding our students and creating a strong school system, you're helping make our community more successful.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.