Highly functioning school districts are magnets that attract new residents and draw business investment into the community. Schools serve as more than a conduit for education; they are interactive partners in the lives of our children, families, and seniors. The school district is the backbone of this community. Today, the Freeport School District struggles with challenges such as behavior, diversity, lack of basic soft skills, and lack of parenting, among others. Our district staff are working diligently to conquer these issues and hopefully improve the lives of our students. However, the educators in the school district can’t do it alone.
The traditional African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is often quoted when examining the duration of a child’s life. Marian Wright Edelman also said, “It really takes a community to raise children, no matter how much money one has. Nobody can do it well alone. And it’s the bedrock security of community that we and our children need.”
The Freeport community has been my home for 39 years. I graduated in 1987 from Freeport High School. I went on to raise my family here and my two older daughters have both graduated from Freeport High School as well. I founded a title insurance company in Freeport and, while it has branched out to other cities, I chose to keep our corporate office here. I felt compelled to give back to this community and have done so in many forms. My recent task, as the President of the Freeport School Board, proved to be quite challenging. All the reasons I thought brought me to the calling were set aside during my first of many visits to the elementary schools. My heart was broken and my soul awoken as I witnessed the challenges and disparity some of our students struggle with on a daily basis. I soon realized that once I formed that connection it was a little harder to numb myself to their suffering. It was harder to convince myself that their struggles were not my problem, as well as this community’s problem.
Despite the hard budget cuts that the our school board made, we continued to increase spending for social-emotional support, especially for the younger children. Today, I ask for your help as good citizens of Freeport! There is a need for volunteers within our schools. Our children need positive role models in their lives. They need to know that this community, our great city, cares about them as well. A few minutes of your day can make a difference in the lives of our students. The process will prove to be rewarding to you and will increase your knowledge of the community issues that our youth face on a daily basis. There are many things you can do for the district, some as simple as going to a school and reading to the children. Please consider getting involved in some way. The district’s phone number is 815-232-0300.
Finally, I close this with saying that we are all responsible for our community. When we see things happening in our streets, we must not turn a blind eye. Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. Help someone in need and pay things forward right here in Freeport. I believe the world is changed by ordinary people doing extraordinary things! Be the change!
Billy W. Shroyer, Jr.
Former President of the Freeport School District No. 145 Board of Education