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Kids need mentors, school leader says

John Baggett, left, principal of Margaret Scotten School and director of educational programs for the Grass Valley School District, discusses issues facing educators during a gathering of the Contemporary Issues Study Group, organized by David Baker, right. The group meets at 9:15 a.m. Wednesdays at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley (near downtown).

Upcoming topics in series

Nevada County Executive Rick Haffey will discuss issues being faced by county government at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley.

Haffey is participating in “Issues Facing Our Local Public Agencies,” the topic for the public series presented by the church’s Contemporary Issues Study Group.

Future participants in the Contemporary Issues Study Group include Nicole Pollack, director of Nevada County Department of Social Services, on Feb. 19. On Feb. 26, the topic is programs to improve student health and school safety, by Marina Bernheimer and Kristen McGrew of the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office.

Sessions are free, open to all and start at 9:15 a.m., with coffee and baked goods served at 9 a.m. For more information, visit http://www.PeaceLutheranGV.org or call 530-432-8935.

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 tkleistwrites@gmail.com or 530-575-6132.