August 10, 2016
We asked Kristi Durette, "Why is education important?" She tells how education has shaped her own life and the effect it has had on those around her.
Education broadly defined is about creating or being part of informative experiences. My life has been shaped significantly by community engagement, with its heart being that of enlightenment and learning. As a result, I find myself drawn to opportunities to help promote and build engaged and informed communities where information, learning and connection is fluid, shared and valued.
Some of my earliest memories are with my maternal grandmother, who taught school in rural Wisconsin before becoming a bookmobile librarian for the county library. I vividly recall summer vacations where I would get to ride along for the day, traveling to small towns and watching other children and adults waiting by the road to explore the possibilities, engage in conversation about their interests, great books read and more. It was an important part of the community. Raised in university communities and surrounded by an extended family of teachers, professors, librarians and community activists, knowledge and experiences shared always provided opportunities for inclusion, empowerment and understanding.
I believe at my core I have a curiosity that encourages me to always be a learner; that every interaction is an opportunity to educate and be educated. And in those exchanges, the opportunity to build a more informed and engaged community. Teachers who created opportunities for students like me to engage in learning, decision-making about community values and shared responsibility for building the community come in the form of leaders, peers, students, neighbors and strangers we encounter as life unfolds. I feel like I learn something about myself and my world every day and that is the greatest gift.
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