Center of Opportunity Atlas

August 30, 2019

Jim Walter Superintendent Clare Schools

When I left Clare in the fall of 1991 and my dad dropped me off at college, I wasn’t certain what my college major or life goals would be. Dad gave me one piece of advice that day (he only had time for one nugget; if you know him, he’s not big on emotional goodbyes): “Do something that makes a difference.” I had no idea then what that might be, how I might do it, or if I could live up to it. In some ways, I still have the same questions…but here I am.

Returning to Clare wasn’t in my early plans. I had dreamt about getting as close as East Lansing, occupying the position that Mark Dantonio now holds…but that wasn’t to be. You can rush through life, but you can’t rush wisdom, much of which comes from experience and failure. But along the way, I picked a great profession. Teaching and coaching with some fantastic people; I was fortunate to learn from some of the best around, and each of them championed in their own way my dad’s charge for what we might do: Make a Difference in our community.

Social mobility, climbing the income ladder, is important for our families and community. The School Board and school leaders are focused on providing opportunities for kids to prepare for success in college, or prepare for family-sustaining career employment. We’re just brave enough as a district to think EVERY Pioneer can provide for their family above and beyond the poverty line, own a home, and contribute to the community. Is it really possible to do that? Who knows for sure…but we’re determined to find out.

The School Board has been a faithful steward of your community schools and resources. While creating the region’s healthiest district, we’re expanding programming for kids at all ages. This year’s changes include social/emotional/mental health help especially at the primary school; a new middle school class that includes career exploration and life skills, and also introductory industrial arts; the high school will soon have Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining opportunities and we may be adding flight to our repertoire. Pioneer High School continues to add their course offerings and is now a strong alternative & adult education option for those who need something different from the traditional format.

Now, when we talk about wealth please know that our goals don’t center on any or all Pioneers swimming in cash…but in having what they need to own homes and sustain their families in a productive community. Most of you know my feelings; “riches” are found mainly in our families and friendships. If our Pioneers become wealthy, well, that’s fantastic! We’ll hope they use some of their wealth to make a difference. To continue to make Clare a great place to live and learn, or if they live elsewhere, to transform their own communities! Our goal remains to prepare students for college success, or preparation for careers that will be family-sustaining.
Clare is an “opportunity bargain.” It’s a place full of opportunity if you’re willing to work hard, listen well, contribute, and act responsibly…without costing a fortune to live here. We’re going to work to continue adding pathways to opportunity for our young people, with great outcomes because we employ great people to make a difference in their lives. Thank you for your continued support of all Pioneers, and for making Clare a great place to live and learn!

Share This Post

Error, no group ID set! Check your syntax!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *