Benson column: Looking in the mirror
Developing every student's potential to excel as responsible, productive, global citizens is one tall task, yet this is the core of our school district mission. Striving toward the fulfillment of this mission requires innovation and a personalized approach to teaching and learning. It requires a forward-thinking staff collaborating in a safe and nurturing environment.
With those thoughts and mission in mind, we need to be very deliberate, measured and purposeful in all of our efforts. To that end, the School District of River Falls developed three priorities for the 2018-19 year. These priorities were developed with a great deal of input from various stakeholders.
Specifically, our district conducted and analyzed student and staff surveys; we reviewed our community-developed strategic plan priorities; and looked at student achievement data. All of this information and data was analyzed and forged into a set of themes that became our district priorities.
The process made us look in the mirror to see where we needed to really adjust our focus. It was like performing an autopsy on our entire system and turning over every stone within our organization. We found many strengths but we also identified some opportunities for getting better.
Our three priorities are as follows:
• Provide social and emotional support for students and staff.
• Increase connectedness of traditionally marginalized students.
• Address the achievement gap by focusing on growth.
Identifying priorities is one thing, but developing specific steps for how to address these priorities is altogether another thing. We took these three priorities and had each building administrator work with their staff in forming those action steps.
Short of getting into details in this article, I will simply say that our administration and staff have been gaining traction with our priorities due to their innovative, forward-thinking and collaborative efforts.
We have good people doing good things in our classrooms every day—hard working, caring, professional people who take their responsibility of preparing our kids to become tomorrow's leaders and problem solvers
We remain committed to "doing school" better from one year to the next. We also recognize the support of our community and remain committed to looking in the mirror from time-to-time in our effort to maintain our strong tradition of educational excellence.