Summer has passed by quickly. In the next few weeks, Courierarea students will be returning to their classrooms.

Some kids will enter school for the first time. Some will be attending new schools and making new friends. Every child will face new challenges.

But, one thing remains constant - students who excel most often have parents who value education. Let's take the message one step further. Communities that prosper have citizens who value education.

It is up to each of us - whether or not we have children in school - to embrace and support education.

Mentoring is a good place to start. It is one of the greatest gifts an adult can give a child.

We have to make it our moral obligation to do whatever we can to help every child have a chance to succeed."

Research from the Indiana Youth Institute shows that students at risk for academic failure benefit from adult mentors. Their odds for graduating from high school and going on to college, for example, are higher than their counterparts.

The Courierarea has many adults with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines. That wealth of knowledge is barely being tapped.

Our area has embraced mentoring and there are several organizations that offer that service. One example is Big Brothers Big Sisters which is always recruiting mentors. Sometimes the mentoring involves spending an hour or two a week with a child at his or her school.

The most important resource that a volunteer should have is time. Every minute can make a difference in a child's life, whether it's improving academic or study skills, improving a child's self-esteem or helping them discover new talents.

As our kids return to the classroom, let's make learning a community-wide effort.