For me, today is the best day of the school year. This morning I was able to visit four schools (Adams, Hill, Zeman and Humann elementary schools) and capture the excitement of kids and teachers as they greeted each other. The moments were precious, whether it was watching kindergarten dad consoling his kindergarten wife, or listening to a teacher explain to new students the rules of the cafeteria. While I know there is some community concern with the earlier start date, I sure didn’t see any evidence of that today.
Our work for the school year ahead is clear. While I am sure that the first few days will be filled with orientation and basics, I already saw new lessons and instruction occurring in all the classrooms I visited. Our country continues to move the academic stakes higher and our school district is poised and prepared to take the next step.
Meanwhile, we are also preparing for the state assessment data that will be released in the next few weeks. I urge you all to remember that this report card of our schools – which details our proficiencies and shortages – is reflective of last year’s achievement. We are definitely concerned with the message that comes with the annual release, but we are also heartened that all of our schools and teachers have been monitoring and adjusting their instruction throughout the year. Our response to these announcements is simple: We briefly celebrate the good news, work hard to develop strategies to address the weaknesses and move on. That is what makes us a high performing educational system.
I certainly would have visited more schools today, but this evening’s Lincoln Board of Education meeting calls. Tonight we hope to resolve the discussion with the city regarding the remodeling (and Lincoln Public Schools use) of Sherman Field, and to hear first reading of the proposed 2012-13 LPS budget. We are also introducing each of our new-to-LPS administrators to our School Board and our community.
Looking further down the road, we are developing and creating a Technology Committee and providing guidance in their work – targeting a March 1 deadline to develop a vision for the most effective 21st century classroom. We are also beginning the visitation phase in studying national models to start planning a potential high school career academy for Lincoln.
There is plenty of exciting work on the horizon and I am energized to get into the middle of the action for the 2012-13 school year.