Education is 24/7

Posted on September 20, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun


The Sun welcomes to its roster of columnists and contributors Socorro Shiels, the superintendent of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District.

I recently received great advice regarding writing this column — write about something I am passionate about. I have been ruminating on that wisdom, and partnerships leapt out. In every aspect of our work, partnerships are critical to the success of the school district.  Why? Because the education of a strong and vibrant community isn’t simply during the school day.

We have many vital relationships within the district, of course. I am excited about and focusing on collaborating with our employee groups, building connections with parents and students, and working together as a governance team. Districtwide we have a very specific focus on what happens in the classroom and how we maximize our time with students and families.

We as an organization and the schools themselves have larger and broader community partnerships as well with nonprofit organizations like the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation and the Mentoring Alliance. Each of these partners make an incredible difference in our schools and enhance learning opportunities beyond the school walls. Lives are enriched by the many agencies in our community, from providers such as Community Health Center to La Luz, the Boys and Girls Club, Plein Air, Art Escape, Teen Services and others like the Hanna Institute that help build capacity across agencies.

The list is fortunately long and many great partners who have not been named specifically (forgive me) because there is such a wealth of support.

We collaborate with groups that extend and enrich learning beyond the school day, provide dental health, and even eyeglasses for students.  The Family Resource Center is a physical manifestation of the power of cross community collaboration for and in service to families. Teaming together we can help families with mental health services, job opportunities, and connecting to local resources in the community.

As I reflect on why I am so passionate about understanding the existing partnerships and growing new ones,  it is because in the end our work is as strong as the relationships we have built. It is only when we, as an entire community, work cohesively together to ensure every student and family has access to quality education, health care and economic vitality that we will actualize our shared desire of equity in our Valley.

Everything we choose to do and embark on reflects a community value, and I invite you to share with me what matters to you. We are planning ways to capture all our different voices and share our learning.  Join us in supporting our young people. #takesavalley


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