Itasca area launches community conversations about student success

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (February 24, 2010) – Itasca area voices from Remer to Floodwood to Bigfork to Hill City came together in Grand Rapids Tuesday evening for the first of three region-wide conversations focused on student success.   

Each of 110 attendees were asked for their unique perspectives on helping develop a culture where parents, schools and communities are active partners in the educational success of all students. 

Convened and hosted by the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (an association of the region’s school districts and Itasca Community College) and the Blandin Foundation, the series of conversations is designed to focus perspectives, initiatives and networks on bringing educational success to the region’s children and future workforce.

“There are many, many good things already happening in our region,” said Mary Kosak, former coordinator of the county’s Children First! Initiative and program officer with the Blandin Foundation.  In welcoming participants, she said, “Sometimes it just takes a conversation, like tonight’s, to tap into the richness and variety of existing projects and programs.”

“These participants were invited because of their great diversity—in perspective, in age, in experience, in culture, in need,” said Matt Grose, chairman of the Collaborative and superintendent of Deer River Public Schools.  “Our communities are deceivingly diverse, especially when it comes to education, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for those differences to be shared, and for our common interest in our children to be strengthened.”

The first of the three community conversations focused on developing a shared understanding of the assets and challenges that exist in our communities as related to student success.  The second meeting (in March) will focus on identifying gaps and opportunities; the third (in April) will focus on creating strategies and a plan for addressing gaps and capitalizing on opportunities.  Reports of the conversations can be found following each event on the Blandin Foundation web site, www.BlandinFoundation.org.