In Case You’re Wondering: #JoinTheConversation
American Education Week Represents Strength of Public Education
By Kevin Case, Superintendent
American Education Week November 14-18 is symbolic for educators as it reminds us annually of the importance of public education in our society and the impact educators have on our students each and every day. This year, I’d like to take a little time to discuss not only the internal but also the external factors that impact our school district.
One of the factors that initially drew me to Emporia was the overwhelming theme I encountered describing the high quality of the staff at Emporia schools. That theme emphasized the entire team that provides a wide variety of educational opportunities for the 4,600-plus students who call Emporia home. As I think about celebrating American Education Week, I am reminded of the contributions from many “highly decorated” Emporia educators. The wall to the main entry of Mary Herbert is lined with more than 70 Emporia educators who have earned a variety of local, state and national accolades. If I only consider the “public” honors that have been awarded in the past six months, they include: Kansas Secondary Principal of the Year, Jobs for America’s Graduates awards, two first year Horizon Award Winners, a nationally-recognized Wellness Program, KanSPRA Distinguished Service Award, and the Strength of America gold standard weight training award, to name a few. These public awards help us to celebrate successes and realize that many positive things are happening in our district.
One of the things I have found with educators is that they are humble. Educators tend to take successes for granted and don’t want to share the great things that happen each and every day in our district. Since July, we have been working to utilize the #EmporiaProud hashtag to help shine the light on the positive things that are happening in our district. Each and every day I am amazed at the #EmporiaProud moments that are being shared, and I continue to be thankful that I have the opportunity to work in this district.
As we celebrate American Education Week, it is vital that we remember that we are ALL part of a team and that the 1,000-plus employees of Emporia schools only make up a portion of the team. Over the past several months, our goal has been to expand the team to invite and encourage more people to join in the journey. We recently completed our Look, Listen, Learn and Lead tour where we spent about an hour with eight different “focus groups” to hear more about your perceptions of Emporia schools. While we are still reviewing the data and looking for trends, the one thing we know is that public input helps make our district better. We saw that with the Listening Tour as well as during a recent board study session that drew over 55 people. Public input into the education process is vital.
As we think about the important role that public education plays in our future, we can simply say it is without a doubt the most important thing to help ensure the future successes of the children of Emporia. So as we shine the light on American Education Week, let us not forget that it takes an entire community to create an environment where education is valued and flourishes. Let’s take time to reflect not only on the great experiences we have had to date with public education but continue to dream about even bigger possibilities that await us. We can’t complete the journey on our own; it will take all of us to #JoinTheConversation to help build a better tomorrow.