"Hope in the Urban Schools, Love Stories," by Cara Churchich-Riggs, is a "must read" for any future, current or former educators. Churchich-Riggs' stories of students, teachers and families she has encountered throughout her 30 year career in the Omaha Public Schools will make you laugh and cry, while helping you understand the realities of the urban schools in Omaha and across the country.. Cara believes, "Educators make huge mistakes in their work if they do not have relationship building at the top of their priority list when it comes to ensuring student success and creating an emotionally safe atmosphere of learning." The book gives raw examples of the prejudice and unfair treatment students have endured because of where they live or the color of their skin. From immigration issues, to test scores, to the ever changing demands that a high school principal endures on a daily basis, Riggs' stories will keep you reading until the very last page. -Julie J.
Many of my graduate students in my, “Cultural Issues in Education” class chose Cara Riggs’ HOPE in the Urban Schools: Love Stories, as an independent reading option, but their enthusiastic reviews suggest it should be a requirement for future classes. Each story shows how educators must dare to listen with their hearts and see beyond the visible in order to create an environment of love, respect, and success for every child. Thus, this is not an academic text about diversity, but a lived account of diversity in action.
Dr. Lillie Gayle Smith
This book went beyond all my expectations. As a South High graduate who continued on to pursue higher education, I saw first hand the challenges and set backs students in urban schools face. It is beyond belief what Cara has seen and been through in her career as an educator. The stories she shares are heartfelt truths that are masked behind "failing ratings" and "low standards" in underfunded and misjudged urban schools. FINALLY a book that brings to light the anguish, despair, but yet love and hope that these "kids" are living. Sit down and read this book with your family. You will not only learn a great deal of gratitude, but also grow in character. Written by an amazing woman, this book is a WINNER! -Drew
This book is more than a compilation of true stories of experiences of one administrator in an urban public school in America. It is a mirror reflecting the human side of education, as experienced by Cara and all school administrators and teachers while they live out their daily commitment to the education of young people...
Dr. John Mackiel
Omaha Public Schools
When Cara Riggs walked into South High Magnet School a seemingly six years ago, the change in climate was both startling and immediate. Cara's very soul embodies the core ideal of leading with respect, grace and love. She watched, interacted, and developed proactive strategies to deal with our tardy, attendance, student achievement, apathy and hopelessness issues. For those who measure success in numbers and graphs, our enrollment, attendance, graduation rates and college scholarships have improved dramatically during her tenure, as have our test scores, while our truancy and dropout rates have been reduced. Cara takes kids where they are and shows them what they can become. Perhaps most importantly, students know that her caring has a price. She has provided emotional and academic support; they must now show that they're ready to move forward to accept responsibility for their own behaviors. they shed the behaviors and attitudes that have kept them in the past from rising up, and they never forget what she has taught them. Respect, grace, and love- it guides her life, and shines brightly in our school.
Rebecca Noble, Magnet Coordinator
Omaha South High Magnet School
Keynotes, Workshops, and Presentation, Leadership Testimonials
Cara Riggs, through her keynote message of HOPE, FAMILY, and relationship building, has transformed a large urban high school into a place where students feel at home. She has a tremendous heart and exudes an unfailing belief in students’ potential. Her expertise is in creating positive school climates. Her passion creates a dynamic and powerful presentation for teachers, administrators and other school staff. Cara’s book, HOPE in the Urban Schools: Love Stories is an amazing documentary of the power of educators in engaging and re-engaging