Senta Holmes

Resilience Coordinator leads ‘Passion for our Community’ program

By Kellen Olshefski

In preparing for the return to school, Elkhorn Area School District’s Community Resilience Outreach Coordinator Senta Holmes said she has been hard at work making sure students and families are ready for the return to school with a new program called Passion for our Community.

With the EASD providing students and families a slew of options when it comes to returning to school this year – ranging from traditional in-person to virtual learning – Holmes said the idea was presented to her to make sure resources are available to students and families if they’re needed.

“That being the case, it was like, let’s prepare ourselves that if families need help or they struggle, we have resources, immediately, that we can pull for them,” she said. “We’re preparing for all of the roles and all the platforms with going back to school.”

Holmes said the initiative is an effort to help make sure that students as well as families throughout the district are prepared for the upcoming school year, whatever their individual return to learning plan might look like.

In looking to find out what resources are available and needed, Holmes said she created two forms of questionnaires that were being sent out to school district families last week: a giving and a receiving questionnaire.

The giving question is about finding ways they could help out and if they’re willing to do so.

“It will be sent out to all the parents in the beginning … saying, you have a passion and you have a gift, would you be willing to share it,” she said. “Would you be willing to tutor in English or Math, or are you able to bring in childcare, are you able to bring in food resources.”

As for the receiving questionnaire, Holmes said it would ask families if they have a student in need and what those needs might be. With that information she’ll be able to help to pair those students up with resources that others might be able to provide to address the needs.

“My goal is to create a database through which I can then connect these families together,” she said. “They get to have a choice on how they can help the families. Do they want to do it via Google Hangouts? Do they want to meet in person? How do they want to connect?”

Holmes said if it’s apparent as a result of the survey that the need is there, she will then continue to reach out to other groups – such as retired teachers and prior volunteers – in an effort to grow the program.

“The first step is sending it out there, so you know that this is what we’re doing for you folks,” she said. “We want to be here.”

Welcome back message

In a separate initiative, Holmes said she has been working with community businesses to welcome back both students and community members into the community.

Welcome Back posters have been popping up in business and school windows recently with the hope of building excitement and positivity within the community.

“Just to build excitement not only for students but for teachers and for the community, because hopefully we can get them back into school (and) hopefully we can be out in the public. It may be with face masks, but then that does create business,” she said.

“It’s ‘we get to go back, this is an awesome thing, because think of the possibilities of the good that come out of it,’” Holmes added.

As of last week, Holmes said she had passed out more than half the Welcome Back signs and that businesses have been receptive to the program.

Holmes said she is also working on a slew of other future initiatives, and she encourages community members that might have ideas of their own to reach out to her.

Holmes can be contacted at (262) 741-9146 or



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