On Wednesday evening, Mark Frost shared these words with the over 550 guests at the 15th Annual MindShare. Mark Frost has spent the past 27 years in GRPS… as a teacher, an athletic director, a coach and currently the principal of Innovation Central High School. He knows a lot about mining for silver! In 1991, Mark emerged from MSU with his teacher’s license ready to tackle the world. Finding a job at GRPS, he couldn’t help but notice the poverty around him. How it had the power to create limits and barriers to access of opportunities and experiences. Mark knew that if left to its own strength and devices, poverty could restrict and stifle dreams. He was not about to let it win.
With a new resolve, Mark became intent on providing his students with some of the same things he was privileged
enough to experience during his childhood. He coordinated spelling and geography bees, organized field days and fun days, coached and led basketball teams to victories and losses, and wrote and directed 4 civil rights plays in 4 years for 4th and 5th grade students. He knew that any inequity in a school could hinder opportunities to reveal the hidden talents in students. And it is those hidden talents that drives Mark every day as an educator.
It was during a visit to the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia with his daughter five years ago that he found his perspective refocused. The interactive museum was adorned with quotes from Mr. Franklin himself. One quote in particular caught Mark’s attention: “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.”
Stopping dead in his tracks, Mark’s mind began to feverishly flip through student’s names and faces. Student’s whose talents were underdeveloped, students who needed encouragement and guidance to set their feet along the right path. Simply, it was those students flashing through his mind whose silver had not yet been mined or properly refined.
But what does that mean? What does it take to mine and refine silver in our students? First, it’s recognizing that the many blessings that have been afforded to some are not necessarily shared across all families. Experiences like regular visits to historical places and museums, or opportunities to expose children to a wide-variety of arts and sports may be out of reach for some. However, as Mark puts it, “this is where the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation can be a great equalizer.”
On a personal level, Mark has seen the impact of what donor dollars can do for his students. Especially over the past two years, where donor dollars are provided for a vital program at Innovation Central, Freshman Focus. These generously donated funds are applied toward incentives like snacks, water and even an end-of-year party for those students who commit to receiving extra help to build good study habits and skills. He has seen first-hand how this program has benefitted many freshman, but one student in particular stands out, Shaniya. Shaniya took the opportunity to receive additional help, and is now a thriving sophomore!
The impact doesn’t stop there. Every year, Dan Morse, an Innovation Central social studies teacher, brings a group of students to Lansing for the Michigan Youth in Government Leadership conference. This year more students than ever wanted to be involved. Unfortunately for some, the cost of the trip was a barrier to attending. Because of the enormous generosity of donors, the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation was able to graciously step in and make sure funds were made available to ensure every student who wanted to attend, could.
This is just two examples of what generosity can do to make an impact on a student’s education- but the possibilities to make an impact are limitless! Every dollar raised, ensures students experience vital educational opportunities that will mine, refine and develop skills, hidden talents and the genius GRPS students have.
From rebuilding school libraries, to getting violins into the hands of kids. From access to art supplies, to funding culturally significant enrichment trips and K-8 athletics… ALL GRPS students, because of donor dollars, will experience vital educational opportunities! We all can lend a hand, and be a building block to ensure our students succeed. Together, we can level the playing field, we can remove barriers, and we can come together behind every GRPS school, behind every student and say we are with you!
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