Trina Kleist
Special to The Union

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February 10, 2014
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Kids need mentors, school leader says

Children in western Nevada County need mentors, a Grass Valley School District official told members of the Contemporary Issues Study Group.

“Offer your skills,” said John Baggett, principal of Margaret Scotten School in Grass Valley.

“Read to a kid. Mentoring is good because a kid knows people care besides the parents.”

He also asked for someone who could coordinate parent volunteers for the K-4 school.

Baggett described the cutting-edge technology being used in Grass Valley classrooms, and how members of the faith community can support students, during a recent gathering of the Contemporary Issues Study Group.

This free community service is offered at 9:15 a.m. Wednesdays by Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley.

The study group’s current topic is “Issues Facing Our Local Officials.”

Grass Valley schools are making strides as teachers grapple with the impacts of low income: 70 percent of students participate in the program for free or low-cost lunches, Baggett said.

“Grass Valley is on the cutting edge” of using technology in the classroom, he said. Students use iPads and iPods to do some school work, and teachers know immediately if students are having trouble with a concept.

“We’ve got dual (English-Spanish language) immersion. We are hiring. We are not declining in enrollment. We are going up for the first time in three years,” Baggett added.

Children, their families, schools and teachers need a range of support from the community to further those advances, said Baggett, who also is director of educational programs for the Grass Valley School District.

Some children have trouble in school “because their lives have been disrupted by a crisis or some event in the family,” he said.

“Parents may not realize how important it is to read to their children…

“Families are struggling financially to put food on the table, and they’re also struggling with drug use, and probably a lot of those (problems) are interrelated,” Baggett said.

For those families, “the last thing they’re worried about is reading to their kids,” Baggett said.

Grass Valley resident and freelance writer Trina Kleist can be reached at or 530-575-6132.

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The Union Updated Feb 10, 2014 10:50PM Published Feb 11, 2014 12:08PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.