Welcome Back to School
Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year. I hope that each and every one of you had an opportunity to relax and enjoy your time over the Summer. Each year we get the opportunity to start over again, to repair the mistakes we have made, to repeat the successes we have had, and to create a new vision for what we want each year to be. It is a unique opportunity that most people in most industries do not have. I hope that each of you are ready to get your fresh start on this year’s journey and to continue preparing each of our students for success after they graduate from Dallas County R-I. As technology has changed or improved the only constant has been the change. The only time it ever makes sense to remain stagnant and not change is when everything around you remains constant. Quite honestly, this has never been so and will never be so.
As all of you know, our district technology has drastically improved in the last four years. When I look towards the future we may not have additional technology; however, we will continue to change how we use and interact with it. Over the last couple of years, we have worked to get our curriculum in line with the Missouri learning standards and put it on the Canvas learning management system. Teaching the same way we always have taught will no longer work, our students need and deserve more from each of us. This will require that we change how we teach. I always have to remind people that changing what is done, or how something is done does not mean doing more. Remember “Because that’s the way we have always done it” is not reason, it is an excuse. Be efficient in what you do and have the courage to stop doing something that you have always done that is no longer necessary.
Each year I remind everyone on our first day about our real purpose which is to ensure that every student is prepared to be successful after they graduate.
“The purpose of the Dallas County R-I School District, is to ensure that ALL students are prepared to be successful in college or a career when they graduate from our district. This is our focus for each student from their preschool years through their high school graduation. All that we do and all decisions made should be based on this premise. All of our goals, objectives, and decisions will be based on this purpose. Our students deserve this level of commitment and we should demand nothing less.“
We have had many accomplishments over the last several years. We have improved our facility and technology infrastructures; we have improved our annual performance report from DESE, we have improved our state test scores; we have increased our staff and faculty pay to be competitive with other districts; we have provided devices for our students; and we have passed a ballot issue to build a new building. So, What is next?
We will obviously continue to do more of the same; however, we will also renovate how our students learn. As I look into the crystal ball to the future of K-12 public education in Missouri I see a massive pedagogical shift beginning to occur. It prompts many questions about how we teach our students. We know that most post-secondary institutions offer many if not all of their courses online through blackboard or canvas. This ladies and gentlemen is our future. We have already made the first leap by putting our curriculum in Canvas. The next step is to ensure that all of our activities and assessments, or how are students learn the curriculum into canvas. There will be a time in our future (nearer than we anticipate) where we have no choice but to offer a portion if not all of our courses online. Therefore, as we proceed through our curricula this year we must be putting all of the activities and assessments students do to learn their curriculum into canvas. If you are thinking I’m expecting everything you teach and everything you do be put into Canvas by the end of this year, then you were listening. This is not a choice for us as a school district. In recent years we have seen legislation in Missouri that levels the playing field between online and seat time coursework and sooner rather than later we will be expected to offer our own courses in a virtual format. For those of you who are thinking I am crazy and we could never get that amount of work done this year, I have some relief for you. I am not asking you, but I am telling you to stop teaching anything that is not assessed by State assessments, Industry related certification, technical skills assessments, or is not in your curriculum. We are going to realign our focus. As a district, we are held accountable for how we perform on these assessments and it is how our district is graded. No longer will our curriculum be something that sits on a shelf. Our curriculum will be what we do and all we teach. Our performance on state and industry assessments is what is used to assess us as a district and this is something we must excel at to prepare students for whatever they do when they leave our doors. I say all of this knowing that we will make sure you have the support from us to get this all done.
Imagine a day where we have no snow make up days because our students can access all of our curriculum activities virtually, imagine a day where a student is absent and there is no need for make-up work because they can access virtually all that is done in a course. As a former science teacher, I know there is great value in laboratory and hands-on work; however, imagine the change in education when a significant portion of what is taught can be delivered anytime and anywhere.
This summer or custodial and maintenance staff have worked very hard to complete projects at each of our buildings we have even been able to add a new (old) building to the district. The Bison Learning Center on Ramsey street will house our Early Childhood Special Education, alternative special education, and middle school ISS. This building was completely remodeled by our own staff.
As we look toward this school year. We will continue to show our public and our neighboring communities that the Dallas County R-I School District is moving forward in a positive direction.
I believe what we are doing as a district will lead to further success of our students and our community, and I believe that the Dallas County R-I School District has a very bright future. Welcome to the start of the 2019-2020 School Year Journey!