This week, we introduce “Random Thoughts: A Community Conversation.” This new feature fills the space, though not the void, created by the retirement of columnist Thomas Sowell in 2016.
We keep returning to the same thought, “there are a lot of really interesting people in our community that we’d love to be able to sit down with and just chat about totally random things.”
We wanted to have a community conversation – one that could include a resident on the street just as easily as a politician, local business leader, philanthropist, celebrity or … the list, we realized, could go on and on.
This week, we spent some time with Donna Hearne, who is an author, teacher and former Reagan appointee to the U.S. Department of Education. Donna also heads The Constitutional Coalition, a tax-exempt educational and research organization that annually hosts The Educational Policy Conference, which turns 30 next year.
Keeping the conversation totally random, we drew seven questions out of a hat – literally pulling folded slips of paper from a bowl containing more than 200 questions ranging from consequential to comical. Donna described the resulting interview as “most interesting and fun.” We hope you agree.
We also hope you’ll join the conversation by submitting questions to add to our collection and by recommending people you’d like us to interview. You can send your questions and ideas to email@example.com.
Also, this week we’re implementing something many of you have requested over the years – a table of contents below our Letters to the Editor. We know. What happened to the cartoons? Simply put, we thought it was time for a change – and the conversations we were having with readers seconded that notion.
Finally, we’re asking you to help us out with one more community action.
It’s time again for our annual Excellence in Education Teacher of the Year campaign – and we need you to nominate all those amazing teachers who dedicate themselves to local students from preschool right through university and at every level in between.
One of the best things we do all year is surprising the Teacher of the Year winner with a collection of goodies including an iPad and flowers for the teacher, cake for the classroom and thanks from our sponsors.
Yes, sponsors! Recognizing excellence in education absolutely is a community event and our sponsors are local companies that delight in celebrating student and teacher success as much as we do. Our hats are off to Bone & Joint Chiropractic Center, Busey Bank-O’Fallon, Dream Play and Sylvan Learning Center for joining us in this celebration, many for consecutive years. Thank you for letting us know what’s important to you.
We are a community and we need to keep talking. We need to learn more about each other than just the titles we hold and the jobs we do. We need community conversations.