Create Hope and Success for Every Child
Bluestem Briefing Article, January 2016
I can still remember coming home my first year as a teacher and excitedly telling my wife, “I get paid to go to school.” Meaning that I always enjoyed attending school as a kid and now I couldn’t believe that someone would pay me to do what I loved to do. This enthusiasm is similar for most teachers starting in the profession. They are excited, optimistic, wanting to make a difference in the lives of a child. But, unfortunately with all the circumstances of our current educational system and society in general, some of us begin to be complacent, inefficient, and ineffective. This is not a good situation for our staff, and certainly not an ideal situation for our students.
Bluestem Schools has been making small strides in improvements year after year, at the same time; we have struggled in areas and even declined in some. Much like the current state of K-12 education in Kansas and the nation, we are in need of a strategic overhaul. This process has been years in the making and on December 14, 2015 the USD 205 Board of Education adopted their district playbook. The playbook is a simple document summarizing the six critical questions used for communication, decision-making, and planning going forward. Those six questions are as follows:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important, right now?
- Who must do what?
I want to briefly touch on the first two questions because those answers are the reason Bluestem Schools exist, they are our passion and our specific behaviors in action.
1) Why do we exist? Create hope and success for every child.
This may not seem like your typical organizational mission statement; well it’s not. Being a cookie-cutter school caught in a struggling educational system is not what we want for our organization, and absolutely is not what we want for our students. What we sincerely strive for is to create hope and success for every child. To do that, we must form strong relationships with our students, parents and community. We must provide opportunities of inspiration to motivate our youth to want more and to give more. This is not just a catch phrase, it is the reason USD 205 exists. This is what we are passionate about. It is the reason we wake up and come to work every morning.
2) How do we behave? To accomplish the previous statement we must change the way we behave. To do that, we have developed three core values that will be the ultimate guide for employee behavior and future decision-making. Those core values are as follows:
- Engaging relationship with kids, staff and parents (trusting rapport)
- All staff and students use transformational technology (innovation, problem solving, creativity, and self-directed learning)
- Every student graduates prepared for their next step in life
This is what we believe, how we will act, and what we will do. This will not be a quick fix and there will be many challenges as we move forward. But I have no doubt that a committed team can accomplish this for our children. More than ever we need to prepare a generation to lead our countries’ future.
The district’s playbook is the roadmap needed to reenergize and guide us for years to come. It is the tool that will remind our staff that we don’t just work at a school; we make a difference in the lives of children.
This vision and plan is our start, but action with fidelity will be the true test. I am excited to keep you updated on our progress as we work to create hope and success for every child at Bluestem Schools.
Joel R. Lovesee,