CURTIS FINCH COLUMN: Taking time for local students a long-lasting investment

By Curtis Finch


Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District

The Mecosta County Chamber has worked on a program to promote local businesses with a blue “Band of Locals” wristband. The purpose of the blue band is to encourage people to shop locally. By purchasing items or services from local businesses, the dollars stay in the community and are not shipped off to the box-store chain headquarters in another state or country. Patrons can also receive discounts by supporting local businesses. According to Deb Hildebrand of Consumer Education, recent economic studies have shown “for every $100 spent at a chain store only $12 is circulated back into the local economy. Whereas that same $100 spent at a local business, is multiplied into a $45 recirculation.”

Educational research supports the same concept when it comes to student achievement. When community members support their local school district with time and effort, it makes a big impact on the students’ ability to see their future potential. Students need role models to emulate and learn from in order to make good choices.

America has a different approach to education than most of the world; perhaps the Statue of Liberty best sums America by her plaque which states, “… give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses who are yearning to breathe free...” Americans encourage ALL to come to the educational table to further their chances at the American dream.

Most of the other educational systems of the world aresorting systems where students are put into academic, vocational, or labor tracks where their future immediately determined. In America, one can switch tracks at any time.

When is the last time you talked to a student who had “switched tracks” in their life?

What was the biggest impact that made them “switch?”

In most cases, it was a conversation with a mentor, a parent, and/or a person whose opinion they respect; the light finally came “on.” For me it was my high school math teacher who challenged me to become a math teacher; so I took on the challenge! Adults can only give advice to students if they have earned the student’s respect; respect takes time and effort.

Volunteering to work with students on the athletic field, in the classroom, or out in the community will give you that opportunity to make a difference in some student’s life.

Isn’t it ironic that when people are interviewed for their “life’s work,” they often refer back to their early years when a teacher, parent, or coach changed their life perspective and gave them hope for a different future? We cannot make a lasting impression on tomorrow if the adults are not investing in today’s students. “Buying local” can help sustain the local economy for today, but investing in local students can make a long-lasting impact beyond our neighborhood.

When is the last time you invested extra time in mentoring or encouraging a student outside your family?

Who knows?

Maybe you will be helping to shape the next leader in your neighborhood, county, state, or nation. Motivational author Zig Zigler penned it correctly when he said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they would because someone else thought they could.”

Dr. Finch can be reached at and Twitter @CFinchMOISD.