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Column: NCIC is a role model for the remainder of the state

Linda Lund, District 518

WORTHINGTON —The Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) has undergone some changes over the last few months.

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The Legislature has refunded the program, and there is more of an emphasis on academic achievement and stricter data reporting. In addition, I was hired as the new coordinator to replace Lakeyta Potter, who now serves as the guidance counselor at Worthington High School. The office is still located at 117 11th Ave., Worthington.

The work of the Collaborative spans across a three-county area, and its influence has been felt around the state. First founded in 2001, the Nobles County Integration Collaborative has become one of the most respected collaboratives in the state. In 2012, the Legislature set up a task force to investigate if collaboratives were functioning effectively. Betty McAllister served on the state wide task force and was a dedicated advocate representing rural Minnesota. The NCIC became a model of what a healthy Collaborative should look like and was a strong voice to the legislature for re-funding the program.

The Nobles County Integration Collaborative focus is two-pronged. We strive to promote cultural awareness and acceptance, and we also seek to address the achievement gap through academic programs and interventions. We are a collaboration of six school districts that include Adrian, Fulda, Ellsworth, Heron Lake-Okabena, Round Lake-Brewster and Worthington.

There are five goals areas that the NCIC targets:

* to increase cultural awareness;

* reduce the achievement gap;

* promote student success;

* encourage family engagement, and;

* offer professional development.

We at the Collaborative are working to open the door into a diverse society where individuals come together on an equal footing and face life, with all its joys and challenges, shoulder to shoulder. We believe we can, and do, make a difference in our community, and look forward to growing opportunities as the diverse nature of our area continues to expand.

We offer tools to the process but, as always, the choice to change attitudes and beliefs remains in the power of each individual. We invite you to join us on this exciting adventure as our communities learn from and with one another.