Last week the Woodburn Independent published an article providing the community with an update about the progress we are making to rebuild the high school. (“Repairs on Woodburn High School scheduled for summer 2014,” by Lindsay Keefer, Sept.18)

We appreciate having our local paper as a partner in our efforts to keep the community informed.

The last sentence touches on my disappointment with our insurance company, Lexington Insurance, and PACE (Property and Casualty Coverage for Education), our local insurance pool managed by Special Districts Association of Oregon.

The school district is spending an incredible amount of time and energy to receive full compensation for the claims we have filed on behalf of our taxpayers and students. We have even hired legal counsel because claims similar to ours have ended up in court.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t had problems with an insurance company. Insurance companies are less popular than politicians in Congress.

However, it is clear they have influence at all levels of government and can influence policy impacting the very people they are supposed to insure.

Involvement can be a powerful thing.

As we start a new school year, I am asking every one of you reading this article to think how you can make a difference as a parent, guardian or mentor for our students.

While I still believe our country is the best in the world, it is clear to me that the freedoms we enjoy come at a price.

Our democracy requires that we be informed and involved. Involvement in our public schools can be much less expensive and far more rewarding.

There is a direct correlation between your involvement in a child’s education and their success in school. I encourage you to find a way to take part in activities offered at our local schools.

Adults physically being there send children a clear sign that school is worth their time and attention.

Praising a child for good behavior, study habits and grades is important, too, no matter how small the accomplishment. Positive reinforcement by adults is linked to higher achievement in the classroom.

Positive, constructive comments made to children do have an impact even if they don’t show it on the outside.

Spending time with a child in side-by-side instructional learning is incredibly valuable. This could be as simple as reading with your child, or as complex as helping them with their Calculus homework.

This individual attention helps children think critically, particularly if they are asked how they solved problems or came to their answers.

Our teachers know how to help our students succeed in the classroom. Classified staff supports their learning process and emotional well-being on a school-wide basis.

Parents, guardians and mentors have an important role to play in the classroom and outside of it.

Please take a moment to contact your local school and ask how you can be more involved.

When I am frustrated with our insurance company, I take a break and walk around campus praising students who are studying and engaged in positive activities.

Some of them look at me strangely (as only teenagers can), but my words do resonate. It does my heart good to know that my involvement can bring about positive change for the better.

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