Major League Partnership
Matilda Raffa Cuomo and Deborah E. Lans
America has been speaking for years about the need for teamwork
and team building. Companies devote substantial money and time
to developing quality interactions among their employees and also
with outside partners: customers, clients, patients. Our children,
who are our nation’s most important “product” and greatest resource,
deserve no less. As we look toward the close of summer and a new
school year, everyone should consider the many people who need
to join together as a team to assure our youth the promising futures
Parents are the most valuable players on the team; their children
learn from their example. When parents speak of the importance
of education and demonstrate their words by actions — attending
school conferences, meeting the child’s teachers and involving
themselves in the child’s homework — the child is encouraged and
inspired to attend school and do his or her best. Sadly, when
parents are inactive and do not participate in the life of the
school, their children learn that school and education are unimportant.
Parents as team players can and must give their children self-esteem
and pride in the school they attend. Parents also need to recognize
and support the many wonderful teachers their children will encounter,
particularly given the dispiriting environments in which they
The schools themselves have key roles to play. Invariably when
asked to name their own significant mentors, adults name either
their parents or a teacher. Children know when their teachers
do not care or are incompetent, and they react with anger, disruptive
behaviors or disrespect. Children also know when a teacher cares
about the youth in the classroom and the subject he or she is
teaching; that teacher will have the respect and attention of
The critical coaches in the education team are the school administrators,
from the Board of Education to the district superintendents and
principals, who must inspire teachers, students and parents and
insure that the whole is even greater than the sum of the parts.
Finally, but significantly, there is the “bench” who can, and
must, fill in where parents and school cannot. There are many
other adults who have the opportunity to support a child: community
members at religious institutions, from cultural groups and in
extended family, and mentors in formal mentoring programs. Each
volunteer contributes critical support to help fend off the many
negative influences which surround our youth—peers engaging in
anti-social behaviors like drinking, smoking, drug use and gang
membership; school absenteeism; and criminal involvement.
Social scientists have written repeatedly what our common sense
tells us: the more adults a child relates to and is bonded with,
the more likely he or she is to succeed. As the school year begins
again, each of us should ask ourselves what role we can play for
our youth. It takes more than a village to raise a child: it must
be a village that plays well as a team.
USA is recruiting volunteer mentors now, training them for the
“season” which for children opens in September to give our children
a better chance to succeed in school. Matilda Cuomo is the Founder
and Chairperson of MUSA and Deborah Lans is the Executive Director.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.