Superintendent’s Message for May:  Everyone Works in Support of Students

Superintendent Theresa Davidson

Superintendent Theresa Davidson

Since the announcement of my retirement in late September, I have experienced a new appreciation of all the things that make “school” happen.

Every day is different, so there really is no way to describe exactly what 900-plus district employees accomplish each day. Let me take you on a journey into their world:

Every morning between 6:30 and 8:00 a.m., more than 4,600 students across the Emporia school district leave their homes and head off to school. They are welcomed by some of the most caring, dedicated people in the world.

Getting our students to school and supporting them in their learning is an enormous task that requires an army of dedicated teachers, administrators and support personnel. They are all professionals in their own field and all committed to making the school experience inviting, safe and enriching.  Many of these adults work behind the scenes, almost unnoticed, to keep the district operating safely and smoothly.

  • More than 50 clerks, secretaries and office aides manage daily routines in our schools and departments across the district.  They provide everything from detailed financial and accounting records to smiles and comfort for students, parents and fellow employees who depend upon their skills and knowledge about school operations.  They work with vendors to ensure supplies and services are available when needed. They literally touch the lives of hundreds of children and adults each day.
  • In more than 300 classrooms, 660 educators and instructional support personnel assure that students have a well-rounded, meaningful learning experience. Working alongside them are instructional coaches, counselors, social workers and school psychologists who provide instructional guidance and emotional support for students. Principals and district administrators make sure employees have the resources and support they need to successfully perform their enormous roles and responsibilities.
  • For students with unique learning needs, the district employs a dozen specialists who provide speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and vision services for the seven-district cooperative.
  • Seven directors manage full-scale departments to provide transportation, food service, maintenance, information technology, safety and security, budgets and communications.
  • Five nurses and eight health office assistants provide for the health needs of students and, in some cases, staff members.
  • Fifty food service employees prepare, deliver and serve approximately 4,200 meals every school day.  Lunch is served, come rain or shine and an occasional power outage, 170 school days and about 50 days during the summer months.
  • More than 2,600 students ride buses staffed by 32 drivers and 10 bus aides to school each day.  Our buses traveled more than 565,000 miles last school year making sure that students arrived safely at school, student activities and field trips. Most weekdays and weekends, our buses and smaller vehicles transport hundreds of students to activities across the state.
  • With the implementation of the 1:1 technology initiative this year, the district supports more than 9,000 computer devices.  As the delivery of instruction and the collection of educational data joins the rest of the world in technical dependence, our team of 12 technology support personnel are critically important to seeing that our devices and internet access are ready and functioning properly every single day.
  • Three security guards work with principals and staff to assure the safety of students, staff and visitors at school and at school activities.
  • A staff of 35 full-time custodians maintains 13 district buildings to assure a school environment that is clean and inviting for students and for district and community activities.
  • Last year, 10 maintenance personnel fulfilled nearly 1,400 repair work orders.   Not included in that number are the multiple emergency and courtesy calls that never get formally submitted. To put it in perspective, that would mean each maintenance worker is responsible for completing approximately 140 major projects a year.
  • With only two employees, our Inventory/Supply Department makes multiple deliveries to schools each day along with the daily inner-district mail routes while also managing a vast inventory of supplies and equipment for the district.
  • For new students, it all begins in the Student and Family Services Department where students enroll, are connected with local resources, and migrant and homeless students are identified for support.
  • Countless community partners and volunteers round out the picture.

As one of the largest employers in Emporia, we are proud of the role each of us plays in assuring that our students receive an educational experience full of opportunity and support for individual achievement.  I am in awe of the dedication I see and I marvel at the persistent effort each and every day which makes your future and mine a little bit brighter!

Yes, it takes a village!  As my time in Emporia draws to an end, I would be remiss if I did not express my appreciation for the entire village of Emporia Public Schools.  Most will be returning in the fall to continue the good work, but 32 staff members have announced their retirement this year and 33 other educational professionals have elected to pursue advanced learning or other personal goals outside of the school district. This does not include the more than 50 employees who were replaced during the school year.  I appreciate them all!

The Kansas Supreme Court has suggested that our state has not equitably or adequately supported our schools and has set a deadline of June 30 for state elected leaders to step to that challenge.  It is important that each of us examines how this threat of school closure might affect the work of this village and of the students that depend on their work.

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