It’s hard to believe, but our summer break is rapidly coming to a close. We are now less than three weeks away from starting another exciting school year.

As the Kansas State Department of Education touts its education redesign project named after the pioneering Mercury astronauts, Emporia Public Schools is also preparing to launch into the 2017-18 school year. Much like Mission Control, the time leading up to the first day of school is full of behind-the-scenes motion — planning, calculating, calibrating and adjusting — all of which are designed to make the upcoming mission run as smoothly as possible.

That work has been evident at the building level, where a wide variety of teacher teams have spent countless hours collaborating, planning, and growing professionally to hone their teaching methods. That work has also been apparent at the district office, where our annual District Leadership Team retreat last month led immediately to a renewed sense of purpose and an enhanced atmosphere of honest, thoughtful and respectful dialogue, thus charting a course to handle challenges ahead.

Our DLT retreat was fortunate to have Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson offer his perspective on several topics, including the ever-changing landscape our students will encounter as they enter post secondary institutions and the world of work. Commissioner Watson shared that national trends/statistics indicate that many of the jobs we know today will disappear, transition, and look significantly different in the near future. We also see these trends developing and continue to adapt our techniques and strategies to ensure students are ready for the new world to come.

The Kansans Can model emphasizes Individual Plans of Study in order to foster interest, create curiosity and open eyes about what is possible and what it is going to take to get there, whether it is through the traditional two- or four-year degree or through increasingly popular options like academic certificates.

Readiness is the key, from kindergarten through high school and beyond. No space launch was ever successful without years of wide-ranging preparation, growth and development. The same holds true for our children. We want to launch them into the future with all the skills they will need to be successful.

I continue to be excited about how our staff here at Emporia Schools works to connect with our students, encourage them to follow their dreams and leverage the limitless educational possibilities available here at Emporia Schools as the foundation piece for achieving those goals.

As I begin my second year as superintendent, I am gratified by the hard work I have seen this summer to make this upcoming school year a great one for our students. Now we begin the countdown toward a year full of growth and discovery.  I am confident that the upcoming school year will provide us with a multitude of opportunities to spotlight a growing number of #EmporiaProud moments.  

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