Superintendent's Spotlight, by Mike Kuhrt

Superintendent’s Spotlight

by Mike Kuhrt

 

Hello parents and WFISD staff,

 

What an awesome year we have ahead of us. We have many new things to be excited about this year. Let me hit a few highlights.

 

First of all, we are wrapping up some of our construction projects. We had good building weather for the middle school additions. You’re going to be impressed with them. It’s really phenomenal work done by Anthony Inman Construction Co.

 

We will host some community open houses on September 11 so you’ll have an opportunity to come by and check them out. We have new sixth-grade wings at Barwise and McNiel, and we’ve done a lot of remodeling at Kirby.

 

With the completion of this construction, we finally, officially have middle schools. No more junior highs. For the first time, all sixth-graders will be served at the middle schools, which will open up some much needed space at elementary schools across the district.

 

Over the summer, we ordered new furniture for our elementary and middle schools, and it looks awesome.

 

Construction of our Career and Technical Education Center is also advancing. You can see steel girders along the skyline as you travel near the Hatton Road exit.

 

There’s good news at Memorial Stadium, too. For those of you who lost cars in the parking lot potholes, you’ll be glad to know we found them!

 

Over the summer, we refinished and striped the stadium parking lot. Even the stadium bathrooms have been completely redone by our own maintenance staff, and they are amazing. In fact, they are so good, they may be the highlight of all of our summer renovations.

 

A transitional year

This year will be a transitional year for us in the way we educate kids. We are moving toward the endorsement graduation model, which gives high school students more flexibility in choosing the courses they take. It will get students thinking earlier about what they want to do in life.

 

More and more, we are asking our teachers and students to explore all that technology has to offer. We will put a Chromebook in the hands of every sixth-grader this year. We’re asking their teachers to prepare lessons that allow technology to be the accelerator of learning.

 

We want our classrooms to be publishing their work to a worldwide audience and have students demonstrate learning on a continuous basis. We also want to see celebrations of learning by tweeting news of successful classroom activities each week.

 

This year, we will have more career-based classrooms and programs than ever before in preparation for the opening of our CTE Center in Fall 2017.

 

Something else that’s new: We will evaluate our teachers and principals differently this year. We’re moving toward a system that rewards student activity in the classroom because it demonstrates they are active, engaged learners – and not just sitting there. Our goal is to capture kids’ hearts like never before.

 

All of this will help us improve and give us a laser-like focus to prepare our students to be lifelong learners.

 

“Most Likely to Succeed”

I recently watched a provocative documentary titled, “Most Likely to Succeed.” If it taught me anything, it taught me that we have to do things differently than we’ve done in the past 100 years if we want students to thrive.

 

The documentary explained that the nation’s educational curriculum was put in place in 1892 by a group called The Committee of Ten and has changed little since then. It also said that the startling advances in technology that began in 1997 have created an economy that can thrive with fewer workers, which is why so many debt-laden college graduates struggle to find work.

 

And that won’t stop any time soon. It predicted that computers and robots may eventually replace the jobs of a vast chunk of the middle class.

 

All of this is a wake-up call for me. I believe WFISD as we know it will be obsolete in 10 to 15 years if not sooner. We need to constantly reinvent ourselves to deliver education more and more effectively to our audience.

 

This documentary stressed that education is more like gardening than engineering. You can’t make a plant grow. You don’t attach the leaves and screw in the roots. It grows itself.

 

If we create the right conditions, a child – like a plant – will grow. It challenged me to ask myself and our staff these questions: Is our district meeting the needs of students as we enter the 21st century job market? What should we start or stop doing to help our students, who all learn differently?

 

It’s time to weed the garden. I’ve told teachers that I want them to find the things we need to STOP doing—procedures or activities that are ineffective or holding us back. Sometimes the weeds of ineffectiveness are stubborn, but we have to get them out.

 

District of Innovation

I’m proud of the team we put in place this year. I believe they are the ones who can lead the charge and continue this discussion. I want it to culminate in our filing an application with the Texas Education Agency to become a District of Innovation. This new designation will give us a greater degree of flexibility and customization in the way we run our schools.

 

Thank you for all you do for our schools! Follow me on Twitter @Kuhrteous to stay in step with the latest and greatest things our staff comes up with this year.

 

Have an awesome year!

 

Mike Kuhrt

WFISD Superintendent