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Ready to Learn: Back to School Supply Drive

It's officially summer. Most kids and teens have been in vacation mode for at least a few weeks and the first day of the 2015-2016 school year is far away in their minds. However, our annual Back to School Supply Drive is already collecting items. We've set a goal of 1,200 fully-stocked backpacks this year—an increase from last year's 1,101 record.

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I Wish My Teacher Knew

Have you seen the story that went viral this week about the teacher in Denver that asked her third grade students to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…”? 

The stories the students shared give us a glimpse into the sweet and heartbreaking realities that children bring with them into the classroom every day. Here are a few - I wish my teacher knew:

“… that I want to go to college.”

“…I haven’t seen my real mom is over two years and that makes me sad.”

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My Middle School Years Made Me Who I Am Today

It’s embarrassing I haven’t thought of this before…it is such an important thing to understand. United Way staff members were asked to think about and share their own story of why they “Live United.” Several folks had very compelling experiences that made them aware of how important community is when something bad happens. And it is true that what drives many of us every day to do this work is remembering how difficult life is for so many.

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Give the Gift of Reading This Year

“Middle school students really do like books. They like them so much, we found they would even steal them when we used to hold a book fair around the holidays in the past.”

That statement from Cynthia Sellinger really hits home for me. She’s the principal of Asheville Middle School—a job only the most dedicated of teaching veterans would want to take on. (Luckily, Cynthia LOVES middle school and thinks there’s no better age to work with.)

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Middle School Memories

Middle school is a crazy time with major life changes. The social, emotional and physical all converge. United Way's Middle School Success initiative aims to make the transition to middle school and then high school and then graduation more than just about survival. Community support, quality mentors and coaches, involved parents, and early responses to risky behavior strengthen the place we call home for all of us.

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S'no Use Complaining about Snow Days

An Exercise in Difficulties at Many Levels

Another snow day for schools means scrambling on all sides. As a parent, I would be so frustrated because I still had to get to work and now I had to figure out what to do with my children. Old enough to stay home? They would wreck the house! Need child care? Programs might open at 10, but I had an 8:30 meeting! And then, as it often happens in the mountains of WNC, by noon the roads are clear and the sky is sunny. However, as a school board member, I soon understood how complicated it is.

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Chicken or Egg? Education, Income or Health?

How do you decide which came first; the chicken or the egg? I’ve had multiple opportunities to debate with people in Buncombe County about which is more important to a successful life; one’s education, income or health. There are very impassioned and energetic views on all sides.

There are predictors that link these three areas: Likelihood of graduating from high school goes up with higher family income; Parents’ education level indicates children’s education level; Poor health or poor access to health care can lead to poor performance in school.

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980 Pre-School Children Waiting in Line in Buncombe County

Imagine a very long line of infants and toddlers standing outside, waiting to get into a building. 980 children in fact. Imagine that adults in communities across the state looked at those lines every day and the only way they could get one child out of the line was if another child was removed from the service they were waiting for.

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