The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 8, 2014

Diversity thrives with council

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to the Greater Mankato Diversity Council for making an impact on the culture of diversity in the Mankato area for the last 10 years.

The council celebrated its 10-year anniversary last week, noting that it had conducted some 9,300 students benefited from prejudice reduction workshops last year, a tenfold increase from the number in its first year of existence.

But the council also has worked in many areas of diversity education and development from the school-based workshops to diversity training in organizations and businesses. Diversity Council Executive Director Bukata Hayes indicated there were some 96,000 interactions with community members and organizations over the last 10 years.

Diversity education is a simple idea, but one that reaps huge dividends. The Mankato area has been a leader in this respect and has been key to preventing community conflicts that involve diversity before they become a larger problem.

With education comes understanding and the Diversity Council has played a key role in both. Organizers note the council has benefited from the cooperation of many community partners. The council and its partners can take pride in knowing they’ve helped create a peaceful community that is built on respect for all.

The diversity workshop and student numbers have been corrected from an earlier version of this story.

Cleveland hits right note

Thumbs up to Cleveland Public Schools and their music program for generating great enthusiasm among students.

Schools at their very essence are designed to create an enthusiasm for learning among their students and it’s clear Cleveland Public School has done an excellent job at this in its band and music program.

Some 85 percent of the kids in sixth through 12th grade are in band. That is not only an incredible number, but one that shows kids love the school and the band. Much of this enthusiasm among students can be attributed to longtime band teacher Erik Hermanson.

Hermanson not only teaches with enthusiasm but encourages the students to try something new by giving the band a chance. Once students try it, they appear to be hooked.

The school appears to be a place where students, staff and parents are deeply involved in education and care about learning.

Kudos to scouts growth

Thumbs up to Mankato-based Twin Valley Council Boy Scouts of America for being ranked No. 1 in total membership growth out of 72 councils in the Central Region.

A few years ago, Twin Valley made an effort to reach out to Mankato’s growing community of immigrants and refugees.

The local Boy Scouts recruited ambassadors from the Sudanese and Somali communities to overcome language and cultural differences to help draw kids into scouting. Twin Valley says it wants to put similar focus on the Hispanic community.

As Mankato celebrates its growing diversity it’s satisfying to see the Boy Scouts committed to ensuring more kids can benefit from scouting.

MVAC father program engages

Thumbs up to the Minnesota Valley Action Council’s Strong Fathers, Strong Families program

The curriculum is designed to actively engage fathers in their child’s Headstart program education. The program recently was recognized with a Program of the Year Award from the Fathers and Families Network.

The program gives fathers a chance to participate in their child’s Headstart activities and gives them a choice in their child’s development.

Fathers can be an afterthought when it comes to education of pre-school children, but studies show their involvement is extremely important to a child’s development. The MVAC program makes that a reality.

Editorial Board

Other View

City plowing helped one in need

This is a compliment to the city instead of a complaint.

I called on a recent windy day and asked if my side of the street could be plowed closer to the curb, as I am disabled — I use a cane.

”Joe” said “no problem,” but probably not that day as it was blowing and drifting and they were trying to keep up.

I had called at 3 p.m. and “voila” at 4:10 p.m. they came and plowed.

Great job, guys and gals. Much appreciated.

Jim McArdle