Posted Date: 10/06/2020
Members of seven committees have begun to narrow their focus and refine what they want to include in their action plans that will take Chanute Public Schools from where it is to where it wants to be over the next five years. This is the third step in the process of developing a district-wide Strategic Plan for Board of Education approval this year.
In a classroom at Chanute High School, retired teacher and committee chair Julie Aikins discussed their task of how to “grow the organizational capacity” of the school district.
“I think of things that affect the school as a whole,” said Jennifer Rausch, “classroom management, school wide expectations.”
Aikins defined their task as building up and supporting human resources … investing in the effectiveness, stability and sustainability of the organization. What is required for organizational capacity to be sustainable, she asked?
It’s kind of like continuity of care, said parent Kristen Stiles. In nursing, the continuity of care they need “is the same people there day in and day out because that’s how you’re going to go from here to where (the patients) need to be.”
Creating a master plan of succession and working towards continuous progress over time are their sustainability pieces, group members agreed.
“How do we best develop and nurture leaders in our organization,” Aikins wrote on the whiteboard. “What do they need to be leaders?”
Leaders aren’t necessarily those with a title, Stiles said. It’s important to support those who demonstrate they have the capabilities.
The group continued to refine their list, narrowing it to three or four before beginning to develop an action plan.
In another classroom, a group predominantly composed of educators were creating a list on how to “foster a climate that embodies the mission and belief statements” and enables the district to accomplish its objectives.
Focusing on that climate, “where do we want to be in five years?” committee chair Brooke Wire asked the group.
It takes more than building relationships between a teacher and student, she suggested. “To build a relationship with a kid it has to come back to the family as well.”
“I think the climate we’re talking about is family and it’s all tied together,” someone added.
Teacher Tracy Coke told the group how she uses the Genius Hour to help students find their interests and involve families in activities. One boy found he loves working on cars after changing a tire with his father while another family picked out a recipe and cooked a meal together.
Hannah Wolf said most of her class projects are held in the spring, when state assessments are over.
Between tier 2, tier 3 and preparing for state testing, “all the time in the day is eaten up and there’s no time for kids to explore anything else. I feel there are so many skills you can build through project based learning.”
“That’s why we have kids graduating saying, ‘I have no idea what I want to do ‘cause I’ve spent all my time doing what I have to do’ in school every year,” parent Jessica Scott added.
Going back to the list, Wire pointed to several topics she’d starred because they were mentioned more than once by the group. Some others appeared to be related and could be grouped. Included on their list was:
Wire asked one or two members to choose a topic and do some research over the next week. “What are the top school districts doing right now, how did they get there and what does their climate look like?” Wire asked.
“I would like to see the top school district and see where SPED (special education) fits in,” Cynthia Gericke said.
Referencing authentic learning opportunities and Wolf’s comments about being able to teach and not be driven by a testing schedule, Wire said, “Is there a school district out there that’s doing that, if so, what are they doing?”
“This next week is for research,” Wire said. “Start exploring what you can find, and when we meet next we can share contacts, school districts, and organizations.”
Members of these action committees will continue meeting weekly this semester, gathering more information and research until their action plans evolve into a finished product.
“Our goal is to have a fully developed action plan to place in front of the Chanute Board of Education by December for approval, and in front of the entire education staff for implementation in January,” said Tracy Russell, Assistant Superintendent.