Thanks to the generosity of United Way’s corporate and funding partners, together, we are making a transformational impact in the lives of students and their families throughout Erie County. Throughout the year we will be featuring corporate partners in the Weekly InBrief because we know the business community understands when children fall behind in school the consequences create a ripple effect. Students who fall behind are graduating without the skills necessary to support workforce needs if they graduate at all. This results in an increased burden on taxpayers and our social service system, increased involvement in the juvenile justice system and increased trauma and delinquency to name just a few.
In this issue, we are focusing on our newest corporate partner, Larson Texts, Inc. (Larson Texts) and Big Ideas Learning, who stepped up to support Joanna Connell Elementary, one of Erie’s Public Schools, which came on board as a United Way community school in the summer of 2022. Larson Texts, along with its subsidiary Big Ideas Learning, produces math textbooks for sixth grade through college calculus that are used by over five million students each year.
Here is a brief Q and A with Tim Larson, Owner/Senior Researcher, Larson Texts and Big Ideas Learning.
Why did you commit to investing in the Joanna Connell community school strategy?
Our company sets goals from a set of core values and perseveres in achieving those goals. These values inform our aspirations and strategies, keeping us focused on long-term impacts.
- We value the impact we make in education through focused and sustained commitment.
- We value curiosity and meaning for people of all abilities and backgrounds.
- We value innovation that comes from respectful discourse, creative collaboration and purposeful experimentation.
- We value authentic change by engaging with diverse voices and perspectives.
- We value a strong community of belonging that enables people to fulfill their potential.
We have found that focusing on these values lays the foundation for long-term success. Our local schools and families are our partners and colleagues in maintaining this foundation. By doing the right thing for our community we are doing the right thing for ourselves - and the cycle of success continues. Joanna Connell is the local school nearest our home office and we simply must practice what we believe at home. By embracing our local schools, we bring them into our home - and we all grow as a community.
How does investing upstream in our most precious human capital align with your corporate philosophy to help level the playing field so all children may achieve academically, thus opening doors to unlimited opportunities?
We strongly believe that all students can be successful. We believe that educators are the best resource for enabling that success. We believe educators are most effective when they are enabled to use highly effective strategies. Not all strategies are strictly academic. Schools must look at the whole student to choose the strategy that works for them. Students who are tired, hungry or stressed are less prepared to succeed academically. Community schools look for ways to level the playing field. so every student is prepared to be successful. Building student success does more than just enabling individuals - those students are able to bring their successes home, enabling family members to be more successful and, in turn, successful families enable their communities to be more successful. Every individual win is thus multiplied many times over - bringing success back to those who invest in every student.
This is not a short-term strategy but it is not a difficult strategy either. The solutions are straightforward, requiring only perseverance and commitment from community investors. We are privileged to be one of those community investors.