AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

January 19, 2018

A Healthy School Helps Keep Mayberry Alive
Written by Katie Keith

A new full-time staff person to the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center recently boasted of winning a trivia game during her orientation to the city. She credits her win to being one of the few people in that group who could answer an "Andy Griffith Show" reference.

It is hard for me to believe that people would not have a picture of "Mayberry" in their mind as an ideal place to raise a family. Is "Mayberry" out of the minds of our upcoming generation? I would like to believe that the values and quality of life depicted in that television program are valuable and the kind of thing that I would like to give my family.

I would like to share my thoughts on passing valuable life values to the next generation through what I see in Ash Grove.

To me, Ash Grove is one of those "Mayberry" types of communities.

Dr. Aaron Gerla, superintendent of schools, talked to the EXCCEL participants and said church and school are at the heart of the community. While the township is comparatively older in population than neighboring communities there are some bright spots for young families.

The schools and the students are strongly supported, especially the Care to Learn initiative. Internet connection is a reliable resource in this community, and each student has their own netbook to connect with the world. In addition to the technology, a "Launch" program provides opportunities for advanced placement in virtually any higher subject matter.

The superintendent noted that funding is tied to enrollment numbers and there has been a decline in enrollment over the past decade in Ash Grove. A common theme for not seeing enrollment stay steady or grow seemed to be tied to zoning issues, lack of housing and opportunities for business.

One of the threats as seen by the superintendent of schools in this community is the idea of using public dollars to support virtual and charter schools. The main problem will be that more school providers will be vying for the same amount of available state dollars.

As a participant in 12 years of parochial school education, you might assume I would be in favor of funding for charter schools. My parents and my church fought for and funded my education. The church also fought for students that could not pay for that education.

Save public school funding for everyone and help keep "Mayberry" alive; keep Ash Grove alive!

Register for 2018 EXCCEL:

BACKGROUND: The Western Greene County Leadership Academy known as EXCCEL pools emerging leaders from the western side of county including the towns of Republic, Willard, Ash Grove and rural areas in an effort to develop future community leaders. EXCCEL graduates use insights and skills learned to engage in building community networks, make well-informed community decisions and find real solutions to real problems. The program is a partnership between Greene County MU Extension and the Greene County Commonwealth. This Ash Grove editorial published in the Greene County Commonwealth in October as a community service. Subscribe to the Greene County Commonwealth and read MU Extension's EXCCEL team editorials earlier.

Photo available for following caption

Author Katie Keith

Source: David Burton, (417) 881-8909, (417) 874-2954

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