December 19, 2018
Dear Jaguar Parent/Guardian,
It is truly hard to believe that the first semester of this school year is already drawing to a close. It has been a great year so far in Jaguar Country and I wish each of you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.
I wanted to take a brief moment to share some information with you regarding the redesign efforts that are occurring on the Hartford and Neosho Rapids campuses. As you may or may not know from my previous letter, last year the staff at both buildings voted to participate in the KSDE Gemini II Redesign effort. We were supported in this endeavor by our board of education and we have been working behind the scenes since then to lay the groundwork for change in our buildings.
Once more, the question that we continue to grapple with as educators regarding redesign is “Why?” The easy and least complicated answer is that we want to put our students first and give them a chance for success after high school, whatever that looks like. The truth of the matter is that our data shows us that we haven’t been as successful as we would like in that regard. By 2020, 71% of jobs in Kansas WILL require some form of postsecondary education. It is essential that we do our part in giving our students what they need to be successful.
The need to systemically change our schools is not new. Each year, we make changes to try to best meet our students’ needs. Yet, never before have we been given the opportunity through the state to completely flip the structure of what school looks like. This fall, our staff has worked hard to figure out ways to put student success at the forefront of everything we do.
As we start the second semester, we will begin to pilot various ideas on each campus. Each pilot allows us the opportunity to receive feedback from students, parents, and staff that will allow us to make our schools better. There will be times that we will not be successful in implementing an idea and that is ok. It is important to work through as many ideations as possible to find the right fit for our students, schools, and our communities.
At Neosho Rapids, investigation teams have been formed to research and create pilot programs surrounding the benefits of more movement for students, an increase in art and STEM opportunities, social emotional support for students, increased teacher collaboration time, possible ability based grouping in reading across grade levels, and more chances to develop family and school partnerships. These groups have presented information to the staff and are working on pilot programs now. Imagine an elementary school with three recesses a day, increased science and art time, and schedules designed around what is best for students rather than logistics. There are several dates earmarked in January for the teams to go to different schools that are implementing similar ideas so that they can see their ideas in action. Staff will reach out to some parents to join them so please let your child’s teacher know if you are interested.
At Hartford, investigation teams have also been formed to research increased teacher collaboration time, project based learning across the curriculum, individual plans of study with varied degrees and internship possibilities, school wide culture and expectations, and junior high schedule/structure. Imagine a high school with personalized schedules, internship opportunities, and degrees designed around your child’s post secondary plans. We are scheduled to visit different schools on January 17th to see how some of our ideas may work in a real world application.
Both redesign teams from Hartford and Neosho Rapids have presented to the USD 252 Board of Education regarding progress with school redesign.
So, what is it all going to look like when we are done? The answer is that we do not know, but I can tell you that your child will be given every opportunity to pursue an education that is relevant, rigorous, and modern for the world that they will inhabit as adults. Thank you in advance for helping our staff invest in the best educational environment for your child.
This letter is not only going out in the mail to you in your homes; I am also posting it and future communications to our school website at http://www.usd252.org/o/hartford-neosho-rapids and to our school Facebook page. Additionally, should you have any questions and would like to speak to a member of our school redesign team, you can e-mail us at redesignHHSNR@usd252.org.
As always, it is a great day to be a Jaguar.
Mr. Hes and the NRE/HJH/HHS Gemini Redesign Team:
Walker Ayers, Jane Kelley, Teresa Wiebe, and Stacy Wolf