Perspective: Rob Haworth, Giving Back

Throughout this newsletter, you’ll see a few of the many ways our students give back to the community, including a donation drive for a local animal shelter, adoption of local families by our athletes, a fundraiser/donation drive for a local nonprofit, and by caroling out in the community. Projects like these are not unique to this time of the year, but a demonstration of the generous hearts of our students, families, and community throughout the entire year.

This generosity is felt in each of our buildings, as we see teachers and staff go above and beyond the call of duty for our students, dedicated to the Elkhart Promise of knowing each student by name. We feel the generosity from every business and organization that walks into our buildings and commits to serving on a committee, or hosting an intern, or sponsoring a special event, or donating coats.  We feel the immense impact by every volunteer or donation in our buildings – whether it’s time reading to a classroom, mentoring a child, painting walls, knitting hats, organizing a PTO event, or paying off overdue lunch balances. Generosity surrounds the Elkhart community, and I am so thankful to be part of raising the next generation of future philanthropists, who see the examples before them and become inspired to make a difference.

As a school district, giving back to the community is incredibly important. One way we’re able to give back is through partnerships that provide opportunities for our youth. This year, we launched the Mary Beck Lab School in partnership with Indiana University South Bend, providing ECS students with two teachers (a mentor teacher and a student teacher) in each classroom while helping train the next generation of teachers. We also partnered to open Elkhart’s first stand alone Boys and Girls Club at Beardsley Elementary School, The Brian and Jeannelle Brady Center, which will provide robust afterschool programming for Elkhart youth.  In 2017, with the help of a number of corporate partners, we initiated the PRIDE program and the Governor’s Work Ethic Certification, a program which will set our graduates apart from others.  Perhaps most visibly with the current construction, we also partnered with the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and Beacon Health Systems on the Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center, a world-class facility that will provide water safety classes for every Elkhart student, as well as a higher level of athletic programs. We’re currently in discussion with leadership from The Tolson Center, a great partner of Elkhart Community Schools, to see how we can work together to ensure a solid future for the center and the hundreds of students served by their programs. We believe these programs help our students, as well as the community.

Supported by highly effective staff and in partnership with the community, our district has achieved remarkable success this year. With the graduating class of 2017, we achieved our highest graduation rate in history and also awarded the most diplomas in over 40 years. We achieved the trifecta of Early College endorsements when the Elkhart Area Career Center joined Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial in being named by the Center for Excellence and Leadership as an Early College Center. This effort resulted in a record 103 students graduating with either an associate’s degree or certification from Ivy Tech in 2017. In addition, last year’s ECS graduates earned over $3.48 million in scholarships. This success is not the result of one person’s efforts, but of the collective generosity and hard work of our entire staff, students, parents, and the community.

This week, we met with nonprofit organizations from around the community to talk about how we can work together.  In 2018, we’ll be taking a hard look at community literacy, as well as housing, health, and safety in Elkhart, and what role we can play or lead in improving our community. If you are interested in participating in these discussions and helping make an impact, we’d love to have you. We are also always looking for individual and classroom mentors.  

As we look forward at 2018, I’m excited to see a community so focused on creating opportunities through generosity, time, and talent. Great things are happening in Elkhart and at Elkhart Community Schools.

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to our students. I hope this holiday season brings you love and joy that will last throughout 2018.