As I come to the close of my first year in Emporia, I am reflecting on what has been a great year. I am excited about what we have accomplished, and more importantly, the energy I’m feeling is fueled by the potential of what lies ahead.
I started my tenure here using the power of social media to showcase the #GreatPeople in the district and community. Hashtags are used in social media to highlight or categorize a comment. The Twitter hashtag #GreatPeople emphasized my experiences of meeting and encountering great people everywhere I went in Emporia. Many of those encounters were with USD 253 employees, but many were with parents, students and community members. I continue to be amazed by all of the kind, caring and talented people that I meet and talk with on a daily basis. The emphasis on great people led me to start using the #EmporiaProud hashtag. Every day, I see a multitude of events, activities, and personal interactions that make me #EmporiaProud.
The hashtag caught on quickly and has been used widely on Twitter, Facebook and many other channels of communication. #EmporiaProud emphasizes hundreds of stories of great things going on daily inside and outside our classrooms involving students, staff, parents and our business partners. In the past year, more than 5,000 social media interactions carried the #EmporiaProud tag reaching more than 31,000 social media users.
The month of May was filled with numerous activities that drove that point home. Our Staff Recognition event honored 27 staff members retiring with more than 755 years of education experience at all levels. The Hopkins Foundation presented $22,000 in Hopkins Awards to 11 deserving USD 253 staff members. Emporia High School and Flint Hills Learning Center held commencement exercises, launching 330 students into the next phases of their lives.
Among this year’s graduating class is a record number of 86 students from the Flint Hills Learning Center, our high-school completion program located inside Flinthills Mall. This group of graduates represents a diverse group of men and women who range in age from 17 to 64, demonstrating that it is never too late to finish one’s high school education and open the door to additional opportunities.
All of those activities demonstrate the work of our teachers and staff to give our students the best education experience possible. These are definitely #EmporiaProud moments.
At USD 253, we are committed to seeing our students do well in the classroom and beyond. When we look back in the rearview mirror, it is obvious that the 2016-17 school year has been a success. I invite each of us to ponder and reflect on our most recent successes, but more importantly, to begin to dream about the unlimited potential that the upcoming school year holds.