SOME NOTES ABOUT THE DISTRICT
As the calendar continues to roll forward, there is no question we are at the start of another school year! Activities are underway as all of the fall sports have started. Staff members were back to prepare for the school year last week. The first day of school for students occurred on Tuesday, September 6!
We have had a great couple weeks of preparation as new staff came to work in the district on August 22. The new teachers had three days of opportunities to learn about the district, each other, and about the programs we have to offer. With the return of all staff, we had several days of building preparations and district in-service to help plan, organize and get ready for opening day.
I would like to cover some issues related to the starting process in this week’s space!
BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCHEON
On Thursday, September 1, our back to school day was dominated by district issues and topics. We typically have a district breakfast, a welcome to the school year, some core topics or themes to address, and a luncheon with our business community.
The luncheon has been conducted for nearly a decade. The Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond Civic and Commerce members are invited to the school for a luncheon with all of the school staff. It is a wonderful opportunity to bring many leaders of the business community together with our school staff.
For the last several years, our food service staff has worked hard to prepare a typical “school lunch” for everyone. The past couple years the meal has been a taco bar—softshell tacos, “Cowboy caviar” and related items! The meal is well-received and gives community members a little idea of how the lunch program works.
After some introductory remarks, the members of the business community are extended an opportunity to introduce themselves, their business, and to make a few comments to the staff! Although the “presentations” are brief, they help our staff to know more about the businesses in the community as well as to learn ways in which we might be able to partner! It is fun to hear about each business and the perspective brought to the community!
This year, we were able to add two additional highlights. The Cold Spring Area Chamber recognized the recipient of the Summer “Employee of the Quarter.” Joannie Maki, server at Marnanteli’s, was nominated and recognized with this award! The award included certificates for the recipient and the business, gift cards to The Great Blue Heron and the Red River Inn, and opportunity to attend the annual Holiday Party of the Chamber. Congratulations Joannie on this recognition!
The second presentation was made by Pat Donlan, Zach Studanski and Brianna Larisen. The three were very active in the development of the 2016 Community Showcase. Students from the high school Student Senate. National Honor Society, and RADD (ROCORI Against Destructive Decisions) organizations had volunteered assistance with different parts of the Showcase. The Chamber board, and the Showcase committee, had determined the three organizations should be offered some of the proceeds from the Showcase! Brian Herrig, Jen Sabol, and Dean Kron received the donations from the Chamber.
The luncheon proved to be a very successful event. It is always a pleasure and privilege to bring the school staff into connection with our business community!
As we opened the year, I shared some thoughts with our school staff about how we, as a school organization and institution, should approach the year. I would like to share the same thoughts here!
At this time of year, as I go about the community, I am frequently asked, “are you ready for the start of another year?” It is always an interesting question because in my experience “ready” is a hard word to define. There are mental, physical, emotional, and other elements to being “ready.” We can be ready in some areas and not quite ready in others.
Quite frequently, we, in turn, ask the same question of our students. “Are you ready for kindergarten?” “Are you ready for third grade?” “Are you ready for middle school?” “Are you ready for classes at the senior high level?” “Are you ready to be a senior?” We ask our students if they are ready for a lot of things!
As I have journeyed through this summer, the question of being “ready” has been posed in many different ways. At various conferences and trainings, however, a shift in the concept of “ready” has unfolded for me. The way that we ask the question of our students (see the list above) places the emphasis on the student. It expects them to “do things” or “prepare” to come to us.
Although I understand the question we ask of students, I think it is really not fair for us to ask them if they are ready for any of the levels or questions. Because we are the “institution of school”—and because of the rapidly changing world in which we now live—I truly believe we need to flip the situation around and place the expectation on us! Are we, as a school and staff, “ready” for the students we will receive this fall? Are we prepared to take the students—no matter how they come to us—and bring them to a higher level?
When I first got to the ROCORI District, I often used the example of the color crayon to illustrate this point. I have shared that each of our classrooms of students is very much like an assortment of color crayons! There is an array of colors when you look at crayons and they come as big crayons, little crayons, 8 packs, 64 packs, new crayons, used crayons, broken crayons, and any number of variations.
The point is that each crayon is different. Crayons, while alike in many ways, each have their unique elements—color, size, history, use. We don’t expect a crayon to come to us “ready” to be anything—we expect to take the crayon, as it is, and make the most of what it offers.
My challenge to our school staff, as we begin the 2016-2017 school year, is that we need to be an institution that is “ready” for our students—however they may come to us and regardless of their size, color, history or use.
Our task is to take our students, as they are, and make the most of the educational experience for them. Our job is to grow our students from where they are to where we want them to be!
It has been an exciting couple weeks as we have prepared to open the school doors to students. We have a lot of great things happening in the ROCORI Schools—with many things for which we can be very proud! The luncheon with our local businesses was a great celebration of our partnerships! Our preparations will allow us to meet students and their needs as they come to us! We trust it will be an exciting and valuable journey through the 2016-2017 school year!