In Case You’re Wondering: Becoming a Lighthouse District
Commissioner Watson: Emporia Is in a Good Position
Over the past two weeks, our district has experienced many #EmporiaProud moments. Our STREAM days continue to provide students with a variety of learning experiences that help them connect the dots between multiple curricular areas. We hosted Senator Jerry Moran, who spent about an hour with students while touring Emporia High School and visiting classrooms. Finally, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson spent half a day in the district on Sept. 22.
Anytime you can have the Commissioner of Education visit your district and talk with staff, it is a great opportunity to showcase the learning taking place in Emporia schools. During his tour of Maynard Early Childhood Center, Dr. Watson shared with staff members the importance of providing a strong foundation for our earliest learners. He was impressed with the services we provide for our 3- and 4-year-old learners, and he praised USD 253 for reaching out to more of our early learners through the Mobilizing Literacy Grant we received through the Jones Trust and Emporia State University. The commissioner urged us to maintain, develop and expand our relationships with our current private and faith-based child care, preschool and other service providers.
The Mobilizing Literacy Advisory Council is a good first step in developing strong relationships with parents, child care providers and preschool providers. Another important step involves the USD 253 Board of Education. The board will have a study session Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Mary Herbert Education Center to discuss early learning and kindergarten readiness. The public is encouraged to attend and be involved in the conversation that will begin at 7 p.m.
After visiting schools and classrooms, Dr. Watson spent time with district administrators and board members. Dr. Watson’s remarks were centered about the Kansans Can vision that the Kansas State Board of Education is embracing. Kansans Can envisions a more student-focused system that provides support and resources for individual success.
Dr. Watson also spoke with district administrators and board members about a more flexible model of education that gives students more choices and possibilities. He also emphasized the importance of making sure that all of our high school graduates are positioned to achieve some form of post-secondary success following graduation. Current national data indicates that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some postsecondary education. It is estimated that 35% of high school seniors will need a four-year degree, and approximately 30% of graduates will need a two-year degree or certificate. The commissioner encouraged continued collaboration between USD 253 and Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College.
Dr. Watson also talked with administrators and board members about the importance of community involvement in our schools. He encouraged us to continue to make connections and to develop partnerships with businesses and the organizations that serve our youth. One partnership we are especially proud of is with the Recreation Commission to provide RecXtra after-school activities.
Finally, and most exciting, the commissioner shared his vision that Emporia USD 253 was positioned to become a “lighthouse” school district in the state of Kansas — a model district that others can look to for innovative ideas and high levels of student success. He believes our current strong foundation combined with embracing the new Kansans Can vision will allow Emporia Public Schools to become that lighthouse district. I’m excited about the possibilities and opportunities that await us. I believe we are up for the challenge. The future is bright.
As always, #EmporiaProud of USD 253 Emporia Schools.