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RBC I The holiday season is upon us and as usual there is a lot of discussion about maintaining the true spirit of the season: giving and appreciating the little things.
Donna Day is passionate about helping many of the most important “little things” in our county — our children. Day is the executive director of Rio Blanco Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES, pronounced bo-sees).
Raised in Dallas, Texas, Day was graduated from high school there before attending Stephen F. Austin University. She earned degrees in speech therapy and special education, then went on to get her master’s degree from New Mexico State.
Her husband Jim was raised in Pueblo, Colo. He was graduated from high school and college there before attending New Mexico State for his master’s degree as well. He has been a middle school and high school principal, as well as the superintendent for the Rangely School District.
The couple moved to Rangely in 1992, when Day began her career with BOCES and her husband accepted a job as middle school principal before he served as the superintendent for six years. After 42 years as an educator, he still volunteers in the Rangely Elementary School, working with gifted and high-potential math students. Even after retirement, his desire to help kids remains strong. The Days have four children between them: Erika, Aaron, Paige and Pam.
Donna Day began her career in speech therapy in East Texas. She then moved to Albuquerque, N.M., and then to the Four Corners region. She worked in an institution that served as a hospital and training school for children with severe needs and her gift to help kids and adults with special needs adapt and prepare for society was evident then, and now.
“All kids can become productive members of society,” she said.
Since coming to Rangely, Day has acquired grants for the special education departments as well as the gifted and talented programs in both Meeker and Rangely. Last year alone she was responsible for $600,000 in grant money for these programs.
As if the paperwork for the grants wasn’t enough of a challenge, she is also responsible for induction of new staff members in both districts, as well as Title I and Title II programs in Rangely. To ensure that the programs maintain their entitlement grant money and all other IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) funds, Day must document exactly how each dollar is spent on both ends of the county.
She is proud of the programs provided here. “Parents frequently comment on how good the services are here.” The comments often come after a student has moved to another district where there is significant decline in services.
Day has also helped unite BOCES with other county agencies to provide parenting groups and the annual Children’s Health Fair which helps parents and caregivers identify areas of need and seek early intervention for potential problems.
BOCES also oversees the “backpack program,” providing almost 50 backpacks full of food that are sent home each weekend with children whose families may not be able to provide meals. Day is thankful for all the volunteers who make this program a success. During her interview, she received a call about some students who were unable to afford milk for their daily snacks. Day was obviously concerned, even willing to purchase milk herself to ensure no child went without.
Through the years she has enjoyed working with many students.
“I enjoy watching them grow up to be adults and seeing their kids,” she said, and appreciates being a part of both communities.
“In a small town, people are there for each other.”
In a field of work that often generates misunderstanding, Day never wavers in her goal to keep the kids’ best interests as the top priority. She truly has a mission to serve and that mission is at least as strong now as it was 35 years ago. The people who work for her compliment her loyalty and integrity, knowing she will always do what’s right for kids.
She has brought to the forefront the value of cooperation between communities, between organizations and between individuals for the good of all, and especially, for the children.