Boise teacher Kristina Luckey is passionate about finding ways to give more to her students. But the Garfield Elementary teacher is in a unique position to do something about that. As a member of a Title One "partnership action team," she works with other teachers to funnel federal Title One funds to schools to create after-school programs. She also serves on a committee established by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to secure funding for statewide after-school programs, something Idaho lacks.
But she didn't set out to be a teacher.
KL: I wanted to be a veterinarian and I got my bachelor's degree in zoology from Oregon State University. But I started working with kids through my church and realized my love for children. I decided I didn't want to spend all day with animals; I wanted to spend all day with children.
What's the difference between a regular classroom teacher and a Title One teacher?
Certain schools qualify for Title One funding set by the federal government. The law ensures a level playing field for children at risk or with less opportunity. Garfield qualifies for Title One funding and my position is funded by that. My job is to help students who need extra support in reading or math, to be a resource for classroom teachers and to put on workshops for parents and families. I also coordinate the after-school homework program. So a Title One teacher does a little bit of everything.
What is the "mission statement" of the group you lead?
The purpose is to connect community organizations, businesses and other stakeholders with parents and teachers within the school to help student achievement and development. We're trying to combine everyone within the community to help the children.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next year or so?
The overarching vision would be for [the group] to grow in the amount of people who are members of the team; that we're all working cohesively to accomplish the goal of nurturing and supporting the emotional, physical and academic needs of our students. I'd like to see parents, teachers and community leaders working together on this.
What's the hardest thing you've gone through so far?
With just about anything you want to begin, the biggest challenge is getting people involved and communicating what it is you're about and trying to do. It's hard establishing a clear vision and gathering the people willing to share in that vision when you yourself are still learning it.
Do you feel your group has a good working dialogue or partnership with the powers that be, like the Boise School District or State Board of Education?
Garfield definitely has a good connection with administrators in the Boise School District. Also I think people are interested in supporting our programs. During the governor's summit in April, there was a call to look at after-school programming and to create a statewide network for Idaho. We have to apply for a Mott Foundation Grant, and I'm one of the regional leaders helping to collect information for that grant. We're contacting people like [Mayor Dave Bieter] and other interested parties, and the reception has been absolutely positive.
There's the State of the Union, State of the State, State of the City and State of the County addresses ... can you provide a "State of the Title One Schools" synopsis?
After-school programming is always at risk. It's difficult to fund free programs with limited funds. Most programs have to have a grant to continue and those grants run out. Depending on the needs of the schools, Title One funding can't always go to funding after school programs, so those programs are always in jeopardy.