Access to education is the fabric upon which this country was built. As a nation, we are going to fail unless we educate the next generation and prepare them to be future leaders, doctors, educators, and more.

As a product of the public education system myself, I know first-hand the opportunities that a quality education can afford. That’s why my three children all attend the same local neighborhood school in Marana, even though each has very unique needs.

I moved to Arizona nearly 20 years ago and fell in love with the state. The community, the natural beauty, and the opportunities for growth are amazing. And after having children, I can say that I love my local elementary school, as well.

My first daughter came along nine years ago. She’s a perfectionist, loves to learn, and excels at all that she does. I knew when she was born that I wanted to find a great school, so we looked all over the Tucson area and decided that Marana would be the best fit four our growing family.

Now, after adding twin daughters to our family, I’m thrilled that our neighborhood school serves each one of my girls so effectively. One is gifted, one has learning delays, and one struggles with impulse control. But the school looks at each individually and works with them to provide them the best education possible.

For my speech-impaired daughter, the school has provided interventions specific to her needs, and she’s now almost entirely caught up to her peers. Her growth has been phenomenal and the credit goes entirely to her learning team.

Students who are rambunctious or struggle with paying attention are too often labeled trouble-makers and sent to the principal or punished for having a brain that’s wired a little differently. But for my daughter who struggles to stay focused, teachers don’t mark her down for her challenges – they see potential leadership characteristics and work to redirect her behavior to more productive tasks.

The more I get involved in my children’s education, the more I want to get involved. It is so inspirational to see how staff and faculty are working so hard to educate all kids, and how those youth are impacted by caring, hard-working educators.

For my family, public schools have been so impactful and such a blessing. But we need to come together as a state to put education first, so that all kids, regardless of race, gender, zip code or household income can get the best education possible.

Liz Firmage is a parent of three children who attend school in Marana, Ariz.