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It takes a village

We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This is going to ring true more than ever this school year. I feel very fortunate to live and work in the Copper Country. The community has always been very involved in the education of our area students and I’m confident that they will continue to be, even during these difficult times.

We all know that, at least to start, we will not have a typical school year. All the local administrators have worked hard to develop plans for all types of contingencies. All of our local teachers and support staff started preparing well before the first day of school for how they could best teach their lessons with the new constraints put upon them.

This brings me back to the village and what they are doing to help our schools. The Copper Country is very fortunate to have a strong village. There are many organizations within our village who are helping to support our schools in these tough times. We all know that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is needed for staff and students. There are also new cleaning protocols that have been put into place to ensure schools are safe. All of this comes with a cost, one that many of our locals were not originally budgeting for.

One of the first groups to step up and provide help was our county emergency manager. He was able to secure face masks right away and provided them to those who needed them. Next came the Keweenaw Foundation, which provided Visa gift cards to our local schools to purchase COVID related items. This was a great help. Schools used this money to purchase cleaning items and PPE.

Michigan Tech reached out and offered specially made face shields for local school staff to use. These face shields were a unique design from MTU designed for classroom use. These will be provided to staff to use in situations where more protection is needed.

The Portage Health Foundation also gave each school a sizable donation based on the size of the school. The bigger the school, the bigger the expenses. The Portage Health Foundation also paid for some unique staff training that many schools took advantage of this year and many others will receive next year.

These are examples of four big organizations who have reached out to help our local schools, but there are many groups who also help year after year. These include local Rotaries, Lions Clubs, local booster clubs, parent teacher associations and so on. These are groups that host fundraisers to give back to their schools every year.

There are also many individuals who donate their time to a local school or help mentor a local student. This past summer a group of local women created a Facebook group called, “Face-masks from the Keweenaw.” These women sewed special facemasks that had clear plastic inserts so that speech therapists could use them to work with their students. This was a great example of community members witnessing a need and stepping up to help

As we begin this new year, we know there are many unknowns. This will not be a typical year. We need that village to help us. We need that Copper Country Strong! I am confident that our local schools will get through this year with help from the community, just like they always have. We will figure this out together. The Copper Country ISD is a proud member of this village and we are here to help all of our local school districts in any way that we can and to be partners with everyone in our Copper Country village.

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