In Case You’re Wondering: #FinishStrong

How we end the school year is important

Kevin Case, Superintendente Escolar

Superintendent Kevin Case

May 1, 2017

I come to you today with what I call “The May Challenge.”  It may not be a catchy title, but bear with me for a moment.  I like to think of May in schools as the fourth quarter of a basketball game – a very important basketball game.  

To set the stage, I want you to think about everyone who is employed by USD 253 as “The Coach.”  Our job as coach is multifaceted, complicated – no it is complex – and highly visible.  We work in a fishbowl. Everyone can see what we are doing, and parents and patrons watch every move we make.  

By the final quarter, the players are tired.  Emotions are running high.  Some players are in foul trouble.  Once in awhile, a member of the team commits a technical foul and the team has to make adjustments to how they approach the game.  

This is a simple analogy that probably resonates with many of us in education.  I’d like to make a few connections to this simple analogy that can help us Win the Game and #FinsihStrong this spring.  

  • Stalling and slowing down the game to keep the lead often ends with a very small lead at the end or even a loss.
  • Keep your A Team in the game and keep pushing hard to win.
  • The coach with the best strategy typically wins the game. Don’t give up!
  • The coach that leverages his players’ strengths typically wins the game.
  • The winning coach always remains engaged in the game until the final buzzer.
  • Keep your players motivated and don’t put the game in the hands of one player.
  • You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
  • If a strategy is not working, draw up a new game plan in the final minutes and seconds.

What does this basketball analogy have to do with the final weeks of school? May is a hard month in the best of circumstances. There is much to accomplish as the last day of the year gets closer.

The team will do better if everyone is pulling in the right direction!

How we end the school year is important. The finale is what everyone remembers and influences how we start in August.

  • Don’t stall. Instead work the clock and take advantage of every teachable moment.
  • Don’t count down to the final play. Instead keep pressing and challenging students to show their greatest potential.  May 2017 is only the end of the game for about 8 percent of our students.  The remaining 92 percent will return to next year’s team.  
  • Don’t wind down the season with light practice. Instead, position the team for a strong start when they return from the summer break.
  • Leverage your fans and encourage them to help keep momentum high.

Ultimately, how we approach the end of the year will allow us to win or lose the game.  I encourage each of you – whether you are in a classroom, the lunchroom or on a bus – to think about the opportunities that lie in front of you. Think about the possibilities; think about the potential impact we can have. Be intentional with each lesson.

During the last few days of our time with students, we can fill time or we can fill minds.  We can think of the last days as the final seconds of the championship game – strategically making offensive and defensive substitutions, strategically fouling, attacking the basket, and playing to our students’ strengths.  

For many of our students, we are the one thing that can make a difference; we are the fabric that holds it all together.  Let us not go into the stall game but rather attack the basket and open the margin of victory with our students.  

Let us make May 2017 memorable!  Let us be #EmporiaProud in all we do.

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