These groups turn positive beginnings into real results

I love beginnings. They are so positive, so enthusiastic, so hopeful, whether they are the start of school, the start of a new job or the start of a romance.

Last February marked the start of the Vegas PBS Women’s Engagement Council.

Forty women gathered for a luncheon to see whether they would be willing to help pick a cause and work on it. They were expected to donate $2,000 annually to Vegas PBS as part of the council’s creation.

Eight months later, there are 16 women on the council, and they’ve selected three areas to work on that would help women and girls in Las Vegas.

Human trafficking, young women’s health and well-being and a documentary celebration of women in Nevada’s history were selected as their priorities.

Those are big goals, but the Women’s Engagement Council will work with other organizations and agencies in Southern Nevada to make progress on these compelling issues, said PBS’ Diana Morgan, major gifts officer.

Here are the women who are stepping up to the plate: Marydean Martin and Lori Lea (co-chairs of the council), Barbara Molasky, Victoria Fertitta, Madison Kelley (senior at The Meadows School), Deborah Erdman, Quin Rivers, Nancy Sprague, Lorraine Alderman, Rosemarie Leong, Dorothy Roth, Lorri Jackson, Brooke Thompson, Jenny Care and Mary Clyburn. One woman preferred to remain anonymous.

Morgan said there is a committee working with other organizations for a special event to draw attention to Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 22.

The Young Women’s Health and Well-Being Committee is focusing on an educational event in the spring for pre-teen girls between 8 and 12 to teach them and their parents about healthy habits, including food choices to coping with social media stress.

Another group is working on sponsorships for a historical documentary series to celebrate women pioneers and leaders, both past and present, in Nevada’s history,

I know a few of these women, and they seem perfectly able to accomplish what they decide is worth accomplishing.

REAL DIVERSITY

Let’s turn from one set of do-gooders to another.

Teach for America in Las Vegas, the organization that has the backing of Gov. Brian Sandoval but was snubbed by Assembly Democrats in a power play, announced 45 percent of its first- and second-year teachers in Las Vegas teachers are people of color.

Diversity isn’t just a catchphrase to this group.

Raw numbers within the Clark County School District are larger but the percentage is smaller, with 22 percent of its new teachers identified as people of color, half that of the Las Vegas Teach for America.

Teach for America spokeswoman Natalie Laukitis said this school year has the most diverse corps of teachers in its history.

Nationally, 39 percent of 6,000 new teachers are people of color, including more than 600 new Latino teachers, triple the number of Latinos from five years ago.

The organization founded in 1990 believes teachers who share the backgrounds of their students can have profound impact.

Teach for America focuses on at-risk schools and uses teachers who might not have backgrounds in education but are tops in their fields. It operates under the premise that these teachers can work well because of their enthusiasm and can be taught to teach.

Naturally, some traditional teachers and their unions object to that premise.

In 2013, Sandoval wanted to allocate $2 million to the program in Nevada to hire 100 teachers, but in the waning days of the Legislature, that was blocked by Assembly Democrats hoping to stop Sandoval from getting everything his way.

They not only snubbed the GOP governor, they snubbed poor children.

It was naked politics at its worst.

Yet Teach for America continues on in Las Vegas, and 45 percent of 275 new teachers this year will be role models for kids who need role models.

If only some legislators had better role models, that would be a good beginning.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275.

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