Four years ago, after completing my twenty-first year as a Rich’s associate, a coworker asked me to come down to West Buffalo Charter School. Their team was looking for help from individuals with a financial background and possibly for board representation. While there, I spent a brief period of time with the truly inspiring leaders of the school who shared their passion and plans to provide the best possible learning environment and educational experience for the next generation of students in west Buffalo. I can now proudly say this will be my fourth year as treasurer for West Buffalo Charter as part of my second three-year term with the school.
West Buffalo Charter School has been serving this community since 2011, providing educational opportunities for children with varying skills and backgrounds. The diversity and determination of our students is astounding. More than nineteen different languages are represented in a student body with children that come from around the world, and around the corner, to learn right here in our community.
An increasing number of children have passed through the school doors over these last four years. Along with a steady stream of new faces eager to learn, I’ve witnessed a tremendous amount of change. As our students have grown, so have the facilities, with new classrooms and a new gym. Our original capacity accommodated students through fourth grade. We’ve steadily added grades to follow the students’ progression and I’m proud to say that, as of next year, we should have the funding and facilities necessary to see students through eighth grade.
I can barely begin to count the number of rewarding experiences I’ve had working alongside this dedicated staff. But perhaps the thing I have enjoyed most about my time at West Buffalo Charter School is simply witnessing the way that the school leadership cares for these young people and is truly invested in their development. Compared to the work these other leaders are doing, my input can sometimes seem like a drop in the bucket. But, the more of us that can contribute our time and talent, the bigger the collective impact.
Make no mistake about it, the intelligent, driven children of West Buffalo are our future, and I would encourage anyone who is considering getting involved to follow their desire to make a difference -- wherever that may be. It’s been my experience that working to make change around me, can also bring about some unexpected changes within.
-- Jim Deuschle is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Rich’s.