Springfield, MO

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May 13 ...Community expresses appreciation for teachers

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School board election night 17 years ago my wife and I were in Florida on a beach.

When we figured the returns were in, Sandy scuffed off through the sand to find a pay phone. Soon she came scuffing back.

"Bad news," she said straight out. "You won."

Prior to the day I was sworn in, I had never attended school board meetings. They last forever. Squeezing all the must-be-approved-by-the-board business of a $140 million operation into monthly public meetings creates considerable congestion. Too bad sitting through them is the best way to learn what's going on and put it all in context.

When considering the needs of 3,000 employees, 25,000 students, 27,000 parents, and the educational welfare of the community, instant wisdom and knee-jerk fixes are rarely helpful.

I came away exhausted from my first meetings.

But understand public education follows a traditional learning curve.

Trends eventually do take on meaning. Hidden pictures come clear when you discover how to focus at the right depth.

Ah ha's begin to cluster: If we spend money for this, we cannot spend it for that. Ah ha!

Luckily, there are other ways for many of us to become involved in public education besides attending meetings. One is coming up: The Teacher Appreciation Banquet, set for 6:30-9 p.m. May 13, will again fill the University Plaza Convention Center to capacity.

The annual event, sponsored by Springfield Public Schools Foundation and supported by Springfield Parent Teacher Association and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, provides us a chance to show teachers we appreciate them. It reminds students we think education is important.

It brings the business community and educators closer together.

And bringing business and education closer is important. Sometimes our differences go scuffing through the sand like bad news on election night.

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