At its Thursday, July 10, regular meeting, the El Dorado Springs R-II School Board heard an inspiring presentation from Dawn Thurlo, Fugate Motors, and Michelle Lester, Joplin, about Bright Futures USA, a program to help students have success.
Bright Futures started in Joplin and had spread to four states and 23 school districts. It has served over 95,000 students.
The goal of the program is simple: fulfill a student’s individual need within 24 hours. It does this without any tax dollars or government involvement.
The biggest problem in Joplin at that time, Ms. Lester said, was failure of students to graduate. After Bright Futures was started, the graduation rate is up 11.5%.
When a student need is discovered, for example the young man who needed a $75 pair of size 13 steel toed boots so he could take a welding class, the school principal called the Bright Futures coordinator who put the need on the Bright Futures Facebook page. Within minutes, a lady called to say she had a pair of boots like that which had been in her garage for three years. Need fulfilled.
When a family was burned out, the superintendent of a Bright Futures school, had to get online to stop the donations saying, “Stop donating. We need to assess what the family has received. They don’t need three coffee pots.”
A group of three retired ladies decided to knit hats for students. They had three things Bright Futures needs: time, talent and treasure (in the form of yarn). More was donated when they ran out.
One little boy in Joplin who needed shoes that actually fit was heard to say he had learned something new that day – how to tie his shoes. It was the first time he had shoes that weren’t so large he didn’t need to tie them.
Ms. Lester told the board, “We are the most successful in small rural schools.” She said they have never had a Bright Futures chapter fail.
Some of the school she mentioned which have them are Joplin, Carl Junction, Clinton and Webb City.
There is a $2,500 affiliation fee, she said, but a school district has never had to pay that. In El Dorado Springs, Harold Fugate, Fugate Motors, has already agreed to put up the $2,500 fee.
If you want to know more about Bright Futures, call Michelle Lester at 417/439-3919.
The El Dorado Springs School Board said it would make phone calls to schools which have Bright Futures programs, discuss it among themselves and with staff members, and make a decision on whether to start a Bright Futures in the El Dorado Springs school system.
In other business, the board discussed with Supt. Mark Koca long range planning: three to five years out. Supt. Koca asked for input from board members, principals and teachers. He also welcomes input from members of the public. Call him at the school – 876-3112 Ext. 5 – if you have an idea for something which should be considered for the long range plan.
Supt. Koca said that work has started on the new entrance road for the Elementary School drop-off and pick-up.
Building and Grounds Director Bob Cornell said he and his crew have cleared the dust off the beams in the gym and are “removing the chicken wire.”
The next board meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, when the board will tour the school facilities.