Bright Futures Harrisonville is a community-wide initiative developed to ensure all students have the opportunity to be successful. The initiative brings together several areas of the community – business, parents, faith-based, social/human services, and the schools – with the hope that our children’s needs can be met with resources from within the community. Bright Futures focuses, not only physical needs, but emotional and social needs as well, and seeks resources that include “time, talent and treasure.”
Bright Futures Harrisonville kicked off in August with a breakfast. Since that time, each building in the Harrisonville School District has formed a Bright Futures Council which meets regularly to discuss and find solutions for building-wide needs. The councils include both school staff and representatives from the four partnership areas.
Bright Futures also strives to meet individual student needs through community outreach via Facebook and email. When a need is identified by a district staff member, it is presented to Bright Futures. If the need can be met with resources on hand, then it is taken care of immediately. If not, the need is posted to the Bright Futures Facebook page – www.facebook.com/BrightFuturesHarrisonville and sent via email to those who’ve asked to be on the distribution list. To be added to the email list, contact email@example.com. Needs posted on Facebook range from shoes and professional wear to volunteer opportunities and clothing.
In addition to individual and building-wide needs, the Bright Futures Advisory Board works to meet district-wide needs. Prior to the start of school, Bright Futures helped promote and coordinate a school supply drive through Community Bank of Harrisonville. More recently, Bright Futures worked with local banks to provide winter apparel for children in need including hats, mittens, and coats. In the upcoming months, Bright Futures plans to start a mentoring program for students of all ages.
Even though Bright Futures is only a few months along, the initiative has numerous success stories to celebrate. In September, prior to the elementary schools’ picture days, local hairstylists donated nearly 30 hours of their time to provide haircuts to children. A local salon donated space and Durham School Services donated transportation. More than 60 students received a “fresh” look for school picture day. Lifetouch then provided gift certificates to ensure all who received haircuts could purchase pictures.
During Parent-Teacher Conferences in October, a Bright Futures volunteer offered his translation skills to sit in on a conference and help a teacher communicate with her kindergarten student’s Spanish-speaking family. It was the first time the teacher and parents were truly able to communicate about the student’s abilities, successes, and needs.
An elementary teacher noticed that one of her students was struggling to get to school because he was depending on a family member to wake him up. If he missed the bus, he had no way to get to school and was missing quite often. Knowing that he was a very responsible student who desperately wanted to make it to school, she requested an alarm clock from Bright Futures so he could set it himself. It has worked great and the student has not missed the bus since getting the alarm clock.
The goals of Bright Futures are to build relationships, provide for individual needs, and ensure every child has the tools they need to be successful students who in turn become productive and self-sustaining citizens, loving parents, responsible neighbors, and outstanding employees. Service Learning or “paying it forward” is one of the components of the initiative. Students who receive individual assistance write thank you notes; one of the students who received a haircut donated her hair to Locks of Love; high school students have volunteered time to help the Parks Department clear a walking trail; and middle school students have helped with the backpack program.
Anyone can be involved with Bright Futures Harrisonville. For more information on Bright Futures, visit the Facebook page, the website at www.harrisonvilleschools.org/brightfutures, or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in additional information or involvement can also contact any of the Bright Futures Advisory Board members including Carrie Caruthers, chair; Steve Croy, chair; Shannon Hiser, secretary; Connie Aversman, Scott Bailey-Kirk, Chris Deal, Gary Hawkins, Phil Miller, Marcia Milner, Luke Scavuzzo, Lynn Laffoon, legal advisor; Jennifer Beavers, coordinator; and Jill Filer, coordinator.
Any donations to Bright Futures Harrisonville can be sent to the Harrisonville Public School Foundation, 503 S. Lexington, Harrisonville, MO 64701. Please include Bright Futures in the memo line.