The first few days of the 2016-17 school year have been quite busy. We opened our doors on August 18 and welcomed approximately 15,000 students into our school buildings. Enrollment appears to be trending upward, though we won’t have a firm grasp on our student count until early to mid-October. Overall, the start of school was smooth and we truly enjoyed seeing everyone’s enthusiasm for a new year of learning in our district.
Teachers, support staff and administrators do an incredible job in the weeks leading up to the first day to make sure we’re ready to go when that first bell rings. Once the year gets under way, the work they do each and every day is critical to the overall success of our organization.
Sometimes it’s difficult for employees to see how their work fits into the bigger picture of our district. Essentially, everything they do falls under one of our district’s six Performance Objectives:
- Every student achieves academic success;
- Student learning is driven by recruiting, selecting, developing, and retaining effective and skilled staff members;
- Resources are provided to support student social-emotional well-being and development;
- Learning and work environments are safe, nurturing, and efficient;
- Community, parents, students, and staff are engaged as partners in education; and
- Financial resources are maximized to support student achievement.
The culmination of our work is to prepare students to go to college, find a job or join the military when they graduate from our schools. We strive to create supportive learning environments for students and their families while providing the tools they need to be successful in 21st century learning and work environments. Our staff is critical to their success, so we work hard to hire quality individuals and help them grow professionally.
From the time students board their bus in the morning, to the time they eat lunch, to when they finally return home at the end of the day, it’s up to our employees to make sure they’re safe, secure and cared for in facilities that inspire them to learn. We also realize a lot happens in students’ lives outside of school, so one of our top priorities is to be a compassionate, nurturing organization that supports students and families going through challenging times. Students succeed when they have a strong sense of belonging and we’re pleased to provide them with opportunities to become involved in the many extra- and co-curricular activities available in our schools.
We know we can’t do it alone, which is why we value the many independent community organizations that exist for the sole purpose of enhancing the educational experience of our students. These organizations annually provide tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of volunteer time for the benefit of our schools. Their work helps support one of the most important things we can do as a district, which is put resources directly into our classrooms for the benefit of students. Over the past few years we’ve been able to complete facility projects, add technology and enhance academic programming throughout the district. Our collective efforts to be fiscally accountable to our community have been recognized by the state auditor’s office for excellence in fiscal procedures, reporting and transparency.
This year, instead of holding a convocation that pulls staff out of their buildings and away from the important work of preparing for the start of school, we shared a video that conveys much of what I’ve written in this column. I offered staff the following observations during the close of this video.
If our district’s vision is “to be the benchmark of educational excellence,” then we should hold ourselves to that standard, know that we are excellent, and always strive to be better.
If our district’s mission is “to prepare students to contribute to the competitive and changing world in which we live,” then we should know our students, understand how they want to contribute to their world, and provide educational opportunities that prepare them at a high level.
And finally, if our district’s shared values consist of respect, community, collaboration, nurturing, accountability, inclusiveness, communication, innovation, and trust, then we should strive to align our everyday actions to those shared values.
Anyone interested in watching this video can view it online at www.youtube.com/WCSDOhio. On behalf of the WCSD Board of Education, I’d like to thank our staff and community for their continued support of our efforts. Welcome to the 2016-17 school year – we’re off and running!