What if There’s a Third Option?
The past two weeks, I’ve been on more calls with our county and schools than I ever have before.
With thousands of students who are served by our local schools, the challenges in this continuously changing situation are daunting, to say the least! But I’ve never seen a more earnest and professional effort at collaboration for public education. I’ve never been MORE PROUD of our local schools and the solutions they’re working on for our kids.
And I see similar situations across the country with the communities of our More Than Just Great Dancing® affiliates … administrators and superintendents and teachers and parents are all grappling with what the school year can look like, trying to piece together the best ideas for their unique climates and communities. It’s clear that NO ONE would ever choose these circumstances; to be figuring out how to safely offer in-person classes, to produce a virtual learning platform, or to consider if a hybrid approach could work. No administrator or teacher wanted to navigate without a roadmap. No parent wanted to choose new learning methods for their children.
But here we are.
I’ve been thinking hard lately about how to support our local youth AND support schools to help bridge the gap some families are feeling, the ones who might see that their child won’t have the physical academic supervision they need. I’ve been thinking about how hard our schools are working to provide in-person and virtual schooling options, so they are prepared for any possibility. And I’ve been asking myself, what can WE do, at the International Performing Arts Center, at Misty’s Dance Unlimited, to be this bridge?
It occurred to me that if we have the physical space during the day (we do), we have a team willing to help (we’ve got that too), and a community with a great need (we definitely have that), then there’s no reason why we can’t structure a safe, responsible program that supports our kids’ learning. We CAN’T control so much, but we CAN be good stewards of education and create a way to support the community in more ways than one.
And with that, I’m happy to say we will be launching a week-by-week solution at Misty’s Dance Unlimited, called the Third Option™ Learning Hub. It’s a way we can support local schools by keeping enrollments in local districts and provide a safe space for kids whose parents need more options. Special educational needs will be supported by the La Crosse Area Autism Foundation, and need-based scholarships will also be available.
Let me just say, I sure didn’t launch into 2020 thinking we would open an emergency learning support center! But I can’t stand by and watch families drown in worry when I’m sitting on empty daytime classrooms, a graduate degree in education, and a surge of Northside figure-it-out inside of me.
No, it won’t be enough. No, it won’t be perfect. But I gave up perfection on March 17th, and I’m not picking it back up! What I’m chasing now is HOPE and COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS.
I want to wrap this post up with a new favorite quote of mine from Stephen R. Covey:
“Transcend traditional solutions by forging a path toward a third option. A third alternative moves beyond this way or that way to a higher and better way—a far better place than either had envisioned. With the third alternative, everyone wins.”
So I ask you this … what third alternative can you lean into? What does your community need right now, and how can you contribute to the solution? We all need each other more than ever nowadays … small business owners and school leadership and families and children. To thrive, we must work together, think together, and find solutions together.