Thank you, Village

Rick Kriesky: Thank you, Village

“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” This Nigerian proverb exists in different forms in many African languages. At the core of this quote is the belief that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the extended family and beyond. Everyone in the family participates, especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with grandparents, aunts or uncles. Even neighbors and friends get involved. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community. This communal responsibility in raising children is also seen in the Sukuma (Tanzania) proverb, “One knee does not bring up a child” and in the Swahili (East and Central Africa) proverb, “One hand does not nurse a child.”

As we complete the 2016-2017 chapter of public schooling in Lexington, North Carolina, these African quotes ring with familiarity and honesty. The successful academic and social “raising of a child” from preschool through twelfth grade takes a committed and focused community and school system working in harmony with the students’ families. This ideal communal effort should not be interpreted to mean that each individual in the school district, community and family will always agree on every action or decision made by another. Rather, the ideal public education communal effort should mean that members in each segment of the community put the welfare and best interest of individual students and all students at the heart of their actions. If this coalescence of the “extended family” takes place within the village, then all students will receive the personal and individualized support needed to be successful. It becomes a testament to, “One hand does not nurse a child.”

A sincere tribute must be shared with individuals and groups who are responsible for this successful school year in Lexington. Our appreciation must begin with the dedicated teaching, support and administrative staff across the district. These are professionals who are not driven by pay checks, but by the inspiration and satisfaction of being a part of the growth in our students. The district’s employees, whether in the classroom, the cafeteria, on a bus or repairing a water fountain, are encouraged to believe that they are a vital part of our students’ lives and education.

Our students’ parents and family members are the most important partners we have in our quest to provide an individual and effective educational plan for each child. Clear communication, as well as an openness to discuss ideas and even disagree, are vital in creating and maintaining a healthy relationship between parents and district staff members. Our families love their children and entrust them to us. We do not take this responsibility lightly.

The Lexington community, through a number of organizations, joins hands with our district and parents to support our children. A heartfelt thank-you must go to the following groups: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Jacket Academic Boosters, Males Only Club, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, all PTO and athletic booster club members, Project Potential, Communities in Schools, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and all school volunteers.

These groups, along with a huge representation of our local church congregations, many community businesses and passionate individual citizens, support our efforts and our children through financial contributions and personal time commitments. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And, finally, a sincere expression of appreciation must go to our local government leaders who demonstrate their support for our children and our district through their official actions, budgets and personal commitments. For the past eight years, I have witnessed the actions of a Board of County Commissioners that is both supportive of the three school districts and children in the county, as well as being mindful of tax rates and expenditures. The commissioners have always been open to hearing significant issues and responding with either long-term or immediate support. Our county commissioners support children and public education.

From our city government, we have enjoyed a very supportive relationship with our local police and fire departments along with an amazing working relationship with the parks and recreation department. These local government entities underscore the meaning of, “One knee does not bring up a child.” An additional thank you goes to our mayor, city manager and City Council members. These individuals periodically take time out of their busy days to attend school visits and other events throughout the year. This personal time commitment is appreciated.

It does take a whole village to raise a child. Thank you, Village.


Rick Kriesky is superintendent of Lexington City Schools.