An extensive audit of the Kyrene School District is complete, and now the heavy lifting begins: responding to the findings.
First on the list of recommendations, which were shared publicly with the Governing Board, is to engage the collective energies of the Kyrene community to create a vision for the district.
To support this effort, Superintendent Dr. Jan Vesely organized a “Visioning Day.”
“As a district, we need to ensure that all students are provided appropriate opportunities to learn and are achieving at desired levels,” said Vesely.
And that job, she advised, begins in each classroom.
“It’s critical that teachers are thoughtful about how they engage students and identify the expectations held for their success, so we purposely set aside time to consider how we will best prepare for 21st Century learning.”
Untangling the necessary hopes and desires of teachers and administrators can be complicated, however.
Enter consultant Leah Rodgers, manager of Education Strategy for the computer company Dell, who served as a facilitator for the day of visioning that assembled a broad range of stakeholders, including district officials, teachers, parents, community members and, equally important, Kyrene students.
“Dell offers school districts all over the country this type of experience, to gain input from their stakeholders on important issues,” said Rodgers, herself a former principal and classroom teacher who spoke by phone with Wrangler News from the company’s offices in Texas.
“For Kyrene, timing could not have been better because the audit was just finished.”
Some of the questions posed to the group included:
• Who is the most educated and why?
• What is the most important skill or disposition?
• What role does technology play in personalized learning?
Rodgers assisted by providing some guidelines for coordinating the visioning process, and the district recruited the appropriate people. In the final group of 43 participants, there were 16 students who were eager to share their opinions on their vision for Kyrene.
Rodgers also organized various exercises throughout the day that included small-group conversation, being sure to include a student at each table of adults.
“We are deliberate about telling kids that they are the most important people in the room, and the kids definitely took charge,” said Rodgers.
“We intentionally had one at each table to mix the ideas up and discover what they want to see in a learning environment,” she said, adding:
“The students were amazing in their participation and offered extremely valuable input. They demonstrated that they are knowledgeable about what they want in the classroom.”
Rodgers said she was also impressed at the participation of Vesely.“Dr. Vesely is a true visionary who is steadfastly moving the district in an exciting direction. She is open to new concepts and enthusiastic about the advances in teaching technology that are available.”
Vesely said that the information gathered during “Visioning Day” will be a critical component in defining the longterm vision for Kyrene, and that the day-long event exceeded her expectations.
She noted she will follow up with Dell on its suggestions and begin to work with her own leadership team to determine how to shape the vision for Kyrene.
“We are grateful to Dell, which offered Kyrene a complimentary service to facilitate the launch of this visioning process,” said Vesely.
“The input that was gained will be critical to defining the aspects of teaching and learning that will successfully prepare our students for the next steps toward high school success along with career- and college-readiness.”
Once broad goals are developed in the district, Vesely noted that subcommittees will be organized to develop the action plans.
“In Kyrene, we are committed to creating the concrete steps within a comprehensive strategic plan to build and plan for the future of our district and students.”