Superintendent: Positive direction
I had the good fortune a couple of weeks ago to attend a Sabetha High School staff meeting. During this meeting, three courageous SHS students were invited to provide an example of what a student-led conference could “look like” for SHS teachers.
I sat in on one of these examples. I saw a freshman student eloquently discuss her short term and long term goals, as well as her learning style. She discussed the career exploration that she has done this past year. She shared her plans for courses that she would be taking through her senior year, as well as her current plans for which college she would attend and what the program requirements were for the specific major that she would pursue.
Watching this young lady discuss the impact of her current high school education and the planning that she had done to see that she is maximizing her current opportunities was amazing! I suddenly realized that in USD No. 113 we are reaching that next level.
The leadership at Sabetha High School has determined that student-led conferences would be held in the spring of 2018. This is a courageous step. Change in schools isn’t about “survival” the way it often is in private industry. Status quo is accepted. Change is a risk often met with resistance!
I can remember a time for some SHS seniors when they attempted to not take “hard” classes — the senior year was supposed to be fun. Well, as a district superintendent who knows how much our taxpayers spend to educate our children, I want our students to have “fun,” but more importantly, I want them to be prepared for the next step and to take advantage of the opportunities that we provide.
As a parent I am looking forward to seeing my own high school age son discuss his goals, learning style, self-reflection on strengths and weaknesses, career goals and post-secondary requirements to accomplish those goals. I am excited about this process as a learning opportunity and for the conference to be a form of accountability for maximizing current opportunities.
What can you do to encourage more real world application in our schools? Ask teachers and principals what they are doing to make the connection between post-secondary and career readiness skills. Encourage educators to be risk-takers. Communicate to other parents the positive results you see in your children. Elevate community expectations for educators in this area. Encourage teachers to invite guest speakers, to use career plans, set goals and use career exploration to structure lessons. Thank them when they do.
Student-led conferences are just one example of positive initiatives that are being accomplished in our district. I applaud the efforts of our district staff to continue to be innovative and to make changes involving application of content to life after K-12 education. This is an exciting time to be in education, and I am inspired by the accomplishments that are happening in USD No. 113.