July 1, 2014

It often seems education gets a bad reputation in the news.

If you wanted to take a “glass is half empty” view, you might only see endless headlines and broadcasts focusing on the negative; budget cuts, teacher strikes, criticisms about shifting higher education standards-- the list goes on.

As someone who works with educators, this seems to me sometimes unfair. And it certainly doesn’t reflect at a fundamental level those I interact with on a daily basis. The bright side of news coverage is that it also captures not just positive moments in education, but also the wider implications of what the word “education” means to the communities we live in.

Together we are creating the future

In my opinion professionals in the field of course, drive the world of education. But there’s a deeper meaning, too. Everyone who pays taxes to support education, every school volunteer, every parent group that goes out of its way raise awareness and funds to support their children, and every business that contributes products, sponsorships, guest speakers and money to schools is part of our shared world of education. An educator can by intent be anyone in the community. Together we are creating the future.

This shared mission was driven home to me powerfully in a recent story out of Moore, Okla., where the community came together after two elementary schools (Briarwood and Plaza Towers) were leveled during an EF5 tornado. In the aftermath, the damages were astronomical for the schools and left the teachers and students more of less empty handed. We at Lightspeed knew the schools well, because they had previously purchased over time nearly 60 of our Redcat classroom audio systems. We knew they were considered valuable teaching tools. Sadly, when the tornado wrecked the schools, it destroyed our products there.

A community comes together

What happened next, which was reported in some of the major online education media, is what underlined for me the strength of a community that cares about its schools and children.


Immediately after the tornados, which garnered worldwide media attention, donations began to flood into the Lions Club International Foundation. As part of the Lions of Oklahoma process in aiding the devastated schools, their first priority was to provide basics like school supplies and playground equipment. But they quickly realized they could give more. Based on educator requests to replace the two schools’ Redcats, the Lions Club disaster relief committee observed the classroom audio tools being used in an undamaged school. They agreed that these learning tools were needed and the Lion’s authorized replacing every Redcat for every classroom that formerly had them.

“Our teachers lost everything, and the Oklahoma Lions gave a little piece back to them. It’s helping to heal their hearts and their souls,” said Briarwood Elementary Principal Shelley Jaques-McMillin.

Obviously, this uplifting story is not about my company or its products. Rather, I see it as an inspirational example of a community banding together to serve a higher purpose. And it made me wonder how many other ways people answer the call for supporting education (teachers and kids) in their community? How are we fostering our future?

Though not everyone can do something gigantic, like those amazing Lions in Oklahoma, we all have the opportunity to pitch in. I think the biggest step is recognizing even if the contribution is small, it still matters and can have an impact. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and how you do your part for kids and schools.

Coverage of the Lions Club gift to schools in District Administration Magazine online.

David Solomon

David Solomon

David’s been on the forefront of audio development for 12 years. His passion is uncovering the unspoken, often unrecognized challenges teachers and students struggle with daily and finding ways to apply audio technology to take down barriers to learning.

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