As we close out the 2018-19 school year, we have so many things to celebrate. On that note, as we recognize Staff Appreciation Week, we will be delivering some treats to all of our schools today and Friday as a thank you from our Board of Education and district for the difference that you make each day. The north side schools, support services, & district office will receive their food today, and tomorrow the south schools, eCademy, & transportation will receive theirs.
I also wanted to share an update on our Portrait of a Graduate work. Many of you participated in sessions to discuss our Portrait of a Graduate — the skills and qualities we want our students to have when they leave Andover Public Schools with their diplomas. In all, we had about 540 people — including staff members, parents, students, and community members — participate in those meetings. In addition, we had 1,250 people complete an online survey that helped us narrow down our priorities for our Portrait of a Graduate.
Our District Site Council provided feedback on a first draft of the Portrait of a Graduate graphic in April, and our Board of Education will discuss it — as well as a revised mission statement and new vision statement — at its May meeting on Monday.
After the Board discusses the Portrait, we will share it with you. As we compiled the feedback, the following areas emerged as most important to our community:
* Academic preparation
* Collaboration & communication
* Innovative thinking
* Integrity & character
We are excited about the direction we are heading!
Thank you for all you do for our students!
I find myself reflecting on two events this week that inspired me as we move forward with important work in our schools.
The first was our professional learning on Monday. Watching “Most Likely to Succeed" with all of our certified staff and Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, was a powerful experience. The documentary shows that personalizing education to meet the needs of each of our students is critical to their success. At the same time, it reminds us that the process needed to make that happen creates some uncertainty and anxiety among educators, parents and even students. That’s OK, and it’s natural when it comes to change.
I hope that no matter where you are personally on our collective journey to redesign schools, the film sparked thoughts, ideas and conversations that will move us toward in making our schools the best they can be. Our students are worth it, and we have the most talented staff in the state of Kansas working each day for kids!.
The second experience came Wednesday, when a group of nearly 30 community members gathered for a conversation to help our District update our mission and vision for the 21st century. We had representatives from small businesses such as Music Scene and Timbuktu, large companies such as Koch Industries and Emprise Bank, higher-education entities such as Butler Community College and WSU Tech, and public-sector employers such as the City of Andover and McConnell Air Force Base. We asked them: What do you want and need from our graduates when it comes to hiring productive employees who contribute to our communities?
The conversations were thought-provoking and inspiring. We clearly have community stakeholders who are engaged and invested with our schools.
To me, these two events are connected: As we re-imagine education in the ways “Mostly Likely to Succeed” challenges us to do, we have the support of our community stakeholders. Many of the themes addressed in the film on Monday came up in our conversations Wednesday. That is reaffirming as we move forward.
Here are a few other updates:
Climate Survey: Our staff Climate Survey closes tonight (Friday). We’ve had good participation, but the more voices we hear, the more meaningful this survey is. It’s anonymous, and we use it to help set District priorities. Thank you to everyone who has already completed the survey. If you have not, please consider doing so today. Here are the links:
Grant deadline next week: The Foundation for Andover Schools is generously offering $35,000 in educator grants this school year. The deadline to apply is next Friday, Feb. 1. I would encourage you to think, both individually and collaboratively, about what a grant could do to provide new opportunities for your students. Here are the details:
“Screenagers” opportunity: I’m sure many of you have had discussions with colleagues and others about the impact of “screen time” on our children. Independent School is offering a free screening of “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age” next week. The film features authors, psychologists, children, parents and brain scientists who examine how screen time affects development, neurology, relationships, social-emotional growth, addition and socioeconomic factors in our children. It offers solutions for how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance in their lives.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. If you’re interested, the Independent School has graciously invited us to attend. They do ask that you RSVP to assist with their planning for the event. Here are the details:
“Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age”
8317 E. Douglas
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31
It will feel like spring this weekend, so hopefully you can get out and enjoy the weather before winter returns next week. Have a great weekend!
I hope you had a restful holiday and are off to a great start for the 2019 year! Thank you to those who expressed your appreciation to our bond partners for the staff meals they helped to sponsor before break. I know your gratitude and kind words mean a lot to them. The meals were a great way to head into break.
As we begin the second semester of the school year, it is again time for our annual Andover Public Schools Climate Survey. This survey is one way our District measures progress on a variety of initiatives and helps us set goals for the future. At the same time, we recognize the Climate Survey is unscientific. Personnel decisions are not made based on its results. It is a snapshot of stakeholder perceptions at a given time.
In addition to the staff surveys you will find in the links below, we also will gather feedback from parents and students.
We ask you to please take a few minutes to complete the survey that pertains to your role at Andover Public Schools. You are welcome to complete the survey either at work or at home.
Certified staff: https://www.surveymonkey.com/
Classified staff: https://www.surveymonkey.com/
If you work in more than one building, you may complete the survey once for each building in which you serve. However, out of respect for your time, you also may choose to complete the survey only once, for the building in which you primarily work.
Please note that this survey is completely anonymous. In SurveyMonkey, it is virtually impossible to identify and connect individual survey responses to a person.
We value your feedback in this once-a-year survey, but we know we must work constantly to improve our schools. The climate survey in no way replaces the importance of sharing concerns, opinions or ideas at any time with your supervisors and colleagues. That type of open, ongoing collaboration is what allows successful schools to thrive, and to get even better.
Thank you for your time in completing this survey, and for everything you do for Andover Public Schools.
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
As we approach the end of our first semester, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for everything you have done for our students this semester. A typical school year is a very busy time, but with schools under construction and others in the midst of redesign efforts, this is no typical school year! The energy and passion you bring to our schools every day inspire me.
As a way to show our gratitude and appreciation, the Board of Education and District will join with our bond partners next week to provide lunch to all of our staff members. We know that while construction is exciting, it can also be inconvenient at times. All of us want to say “thank you” for your patience during this process.
Speaking of our bond partners, we are so fortunate to have outstanding companies working on the projects. We appreciate Baughman Company, Hutton, Icon Structures, and Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture for partnering with the district in sponsoring this lunch for all of you. Each of these companies brings tremendous expertise to the bond work being done in the district. We appreciate their generosity in sponsoring the lunch
Special thanks to OPAA! and Boones Pickin’s for catering the lunches. Our lunch schedule for next week is:
Monday: Andover Central Middle School, Sunflower Elementary School and Wheatland Elementary School
Tuesday: Andover Middle School, Cottonwood Elementary School and Robert Martin Elementary School
Wednesday: Andover Central High School, Prairie Creek Elementary School and Transportation
Thursday: Andover High School, Meadowlark Elementary School, Andover eCademy, District Office and Support Services
I hope the holidays find you surrounded by friends and family, relaxing and recharging. As I said before Thanksgiving, I really encourage you to unplug from work during the holiday break and enjoy some time away. Here is a sample email message you can use if you wish (different employee groups return from break on various dates, so I have left the date blank):
Please know that your message is important to me. Andover Public Schools is closed for holiday break. I will respond to your email when I return to work on _____________. Best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season.
Again, thank you for everything you do. Our students’ lives are better every day because of you.
As American Education Week closes and the Thanksgiving break approaches, I’m reflecting on how much I appreciate working with such an amazing team at Andover Public Schools. Each of you works every day to educate, support and inspire our students. I am thankful for you and what you mean to the children and families of our district. This year we will be delivering some food to each building during the week of December 17-20 to honor you and show our appreciation.
During the Thanksgiving break, I encourage you to “unplug.” Enjoy family and friends, and recharge the batteries. I will be setting up an “out of office” message for incoming emails on Wednesday through Sunday of the break. I really hope that you do the same. The emails will still be there on Monday! Here is what my message will say:
“Andover Public Schools is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday break from Wednesday, November 21 through Friday, November 23. Please know that your message is important to me. I will return messages on Monday, November 26. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!”
Feel free to use that or adapt as you like. You’ll be thankful that you took some time off. I will be taking my own advice this year!
Here are a few additional updates I’d like to provide for you:
Bond projects: This continues to be a busy time with planning and construction throughout our district. We have crews working at Andover Central High School and on the new Andover High School. We’re making plans for the new Meadowlark Elementary and Center for Advanced Professional Services facility, as well as additions and renovations at our middle schools. Click here for a detailed update on our progress.
Trojan Turkey Trot: If you plan to be in the Andover area Wednesday morning, I encourage you to check out the inaugural Trojan Turkey Trot. This fun and healthy way to kick off the holiday has been organized by AHS students and already has more than 150 runners registered! You can click here to register, and it’s only $15 if you use the code USD385.
“Annie” this weekend: I also encourage you to attend the ACHS production of “Annie” this weekend. Shows are at 7:30 tonight (Friday) and Saturday, or 2:30 on Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults or $5 for students, available at the door. I’m sure it will be an excellent show, just as “Once Upon a Mattress” was at AHS last weekend! We are fortunate to have such talented students and outstanding educators.
I appreciate your flexibility on Monday of this week, when the weather conditions were difficult during the morning commute. Last year I kind of warmed up to the nickname “Snow Day Superintendent” (I know I was probably called much worse on Monday morning), but for those who love a good snow day, it appears we have a long and adventurous winter ahead!
On Monday morning I had the honor of attending the Veteran’s Day assembly at ACMS. It was an amazing tribute to the heroes who defend our country and ensure our freedom. One of the most emotional parts of the assembly was when the students set the POW/MIA table: the ceremonial remembrance of our soldiers who are missing in action or prisoners of war. I watched as a veteran seated in front of me took out a handkerchief and wiped tears from his eyes during that performance. His wife held his other hand tightly. The enormity of his sacrifice and the depth of the bonds with his comrades were very evident. I am glad we had school on Monday, so veterans could be thanked and celebrated at ACMS and at other schools in the district. For those staff members who served our country in the armed forces, thank you for your service.
Again, I wish you and your families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!