When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

Building Community Relationships That Will Shape the Future

Building Community Relationships That Will Shape the Future

Elane V. Scott
Rick Stephens
Featured Guest:
Ken Starr

Dear Stakeholder Leaders,

Thank you for joining us for the first program in Season 4 of Birth2Work Radio! We are excited to have as our guest a gentleman who was once quite visible on the national political stage but impressed us as a soft-spoken, values-driven public servant; one with passion for preparing students for the future by instilling a sense of community engagement complimented by rigorous academics. With a long and distinguished career in academia, the law, and public service, we are pleased to welcome Baylor University President Ken Starr. Just completing his first year in the position, we spoke with President Starr at KWBU, Waco's NPR affiliate, on the Baylor University campus. Rick Stephens and I were in Waco as keynote speakers at the 3rd Greater Waco Community Education Summit, which took place at the Waco Convention Center. When the opportunity to speak with Starr was offered to us, we were excited at the prospect of speaking with a new leader who, on his first day at work, called then Mayor Virginia DuPuy looking for his first assignment to be of service to the community. Within a few hours, he was reading to youngsters at a local Waco elementary school.

In the hallowed halls of academia, where researchers, Nobel laureates and aspiring graduates roam, keeping a sharp focus on student performance in the classroom is paramount to a university president. At times, this places higher educational institutions in the middle of community, but does not necessarily connect the two. But the Waco- Baylor relationship is different. Over 500 local community leaders, representing 12 stakeholder groups from throughout the community, have come together for the past three years to fulfill the mission of the Greater Waco Community Education Alliance: to "develop an understanding that the entire community shares responsibility for educating every citizen." The specific goals are: 1) To send children/youth to school ready to learn; 2) Ensure they graduate fully prepared; 3) Ensure post high school success. The strategies the Alliance uses are: 1) Engage and mobilize the community to reach the goals and 2) Use research and data to inform strategy and measure success.

President Starr is in complete agreement with this view. He supports the belief that the next generation of Baylor undergraduates and Waco citizens will emerge as ready and enthusiastic as ever by modeling community collaborative leadership himself. That's where we found the symbiotic Waco-Baylor relationship to be inspiring. Waco's partnership with Baylor University is synergistic, maximizing the potential of the town's young people, the enthusiasm of the college undergrads, and capitalizing on the opportunities of what the young minds of the students can give back to the town that supports them.

Often when we engage in discussions about the current state of education and how it impacts local communities and the future workforce, we confront challenging ideas about what's missing from a systemic point of view. This Birth2Work Radio program illuminates the interconnected web of hidden infrastructure that exists between Waco's stakeholder leaders, Baylor University, and the community of Waco itself. As Mr. Starr says in the interview, supporting the University is second nature to the economic stakeholders and citizens of Waco. Baylor University identifies itself as a citizen of the Waco community.

It is because of this already entrenched, historical relationship that Mr. Starr feels confident about harnessing the power of leadership that his office can bring for the future. In his role as University President, Mr. Starr takes great pride in giving back to Waco, and Waco community leaders can be proud of the groundwork they have laid to make such a successful aligned, and integrated partnership possible. In this Birth2Work Radio program, listen to an inspiring story of one leader and his excitement about the value of building community relationships that will shape the future.

Elane V. Scott