When a school district comes to mind many may think of homework, lectures, and test scores, while others may think of growth, safety, and opportunity. In a community like Hiawatha these factors are part of the picture, but USD 415 is far more than that.
“Schools are the heartbeat of the community,” said Hiawatha Superintendent Dr. Penny Hargrove.
Being a member of HFED, one might assume that the school district supports the community’s economy monetarily, but there isn’t much truth to this. Rather, the school district helps to prepare its students to enter into the community.
The Hiawatha school district offers many programs for its students so that when they graduate, they will have opportunities to work in and better the community. Before deciding upon which classes to offer, the school asks for input from businesses and organizations in the surrounding area regarding qualifications they are seeking in prospective employees. Programs such as agriculture classes, woodshop classes, and CNA certification prep courses are offered to students. Although students may not realize it, these programs are offered in order to prepare them for potential jobs in the community.
The more community members Hiawatha has who possess the abilities to fill the jobs the town has to offer, the better our community becomes. If there is a large number of job opportunities and room for expansion, more people are attracted to them and to Hiawatha.
“Economic development is critical to how our community grows,” said Dr. Hargrove.
In order to expand a community, it needs to be advertised. The school helps with this by offering classes such as career exploration. Students are exposed to some of the different career fields in Hiawatha.
Aside from promoting local businesses and preparing potential employees, the school also functions as a center for the community.
“A good school year is not measured by test scores, but by successful activities that promote student involvement,” said Dr. Hargrove.
For school events such as football games, a large portion of the Hiawatha population comes out to support the team. In moments like these the community is celebrating not only the victory or even loss of the team, but the opportunity of togetherness and solidarity that the town has been given that allows us to attend events such as the Friday night game.
Without a school the community would be facing a drastic challenge. In order to keep the businesses of Hiawatha open, well-educated and quality employees are a necessity.
“We, as a school, learn from the surrounding businesses, and they from us,” said Dr. Hargrove.
The symbiotic relationship between a school district and its economy, then, serves as the heartbeat that helps that town to thrive, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in Hiawatha.