Superintendent's Message

A Campfire Perspective
A message from Superintendent, William Seder Jr.

CampfireAutumn’s warm days and cool nights make it the perfect weather for a fall campfire. Can you remember the last time you sat out at a campfire?  Perhaps you reminisce about singing songs, telling stories, or roasting marshmallows only to sandwich it between two graham crackers and some chocolate...Good Times.
 
It’s in those waning inside that I find myself embracing the warmth of the fire and staring into the colorful, dancing flames reflecting upon my family, current world events, and the many educational issues surrounding us right here at home.
 
 I have recently enjoyed spending some extended time in several of our elementary buildings.   I’ve seen the countless smiles, boundless enthusiasm, and endless curiosity that is incredibly refreshing. What a wonderful reminder that there’s a sense of hopefulness and optimism in a world that often seems so divided.
 
Two questions occupy my thoughts:  “What more can we do to foster even greater curiosity, provide more opportunities that would allow our students to reach even higher?” and “How can we best prepare our students for a future of which we can only speculate?”  I put another log on the fire and wonder if someone had asked these same questions when I was in school or when my children were in school.

As I find myself reflecting on our current district report card, I don’t believe all the answers lie in a test.  We spend too much time analyzing and teaching to a test that statistically seems unreliable and unrealistic.  When 80% of the districts in the State of Ohio get failing marks on the testing indicators there seems to me to be a greater problem.  In spite of those problems, the district has improved on 18 of the 24 indicators. We raised the bar on K-3 Literacy from a “D” to a “B” and increased the high school graduation rate from a “C” to an “A”.

We have recently implemented  ‘Second Steps’, a social and emotional learning platform in grades K-8 to better address issues like Respect, Empathy, Problem Solving, Emotion Management, Peer Conflict, and Diversity. These life lessons are important topics that need instructional time for the positive development of our young people, even though they are not mandated on state tests.

Business round-tables tell us that we need graduates who are technologically proficient.  We have implemented 1:1 technology at grades 6-12 and while it can be an excellent teaching and learning tool, we need to instill a sense of responsibility in this new digital age including the appropriate use of social media.  The Governor’s workforce development team continues to emphasize 21st century skills like collaboration, teamwork, creativity, imagination, and critical thinking.  Ironically, we are 17 years into the 21st century, how are we doing?

The dancing flames of the fire have faded leaving only the warm glowing embers.  The stars are brighter than ever and I can’t help but wonder what you think.  What are the views and perspectives of our students, parents, business and community members related to the questions that occupy my thoughts at the campfire?

While I can share my thoughts and vision for an educational future, it is your vision for the future that matters most. We find ourselves at that critical juncture where “WE” need to have those conversations.  In the coming months, we plan to have a series of community meetings so we can develop an educational roadmap to the future you envision for our students.

I look forward to those conversations.  
 
Respectfully,
William Seder Jr.

 
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