Dr. Ron Hanson
Where Something Big is Happening
December is a good time to reflect on the past year and begin thinking about the new year. The North Platte School District has been very busy this year planning and developing processes and systems to prepare our students to become productive, responsible citizens. Students who like what they do each day are motivated to achieve their goals, build supportive relationships and achieve happiness in their life. The also manage their financial lives to reduce stress and increase security. They like where they live, feel safe, and have pride in their community. They have good health and enough energy to get things done.
The Board of Education set the purpose and direction for the district in January 2016 based on student, staff, and community input. The district developed a strategic plan that guides and provides direction for district/school improvement work over the next 5 years. The District’s focus for the 2016-17 school year is to improve student success by building professional capacity with teachers and principals; developing and implementing systemic and systematic processes that impact the teaching and learning in every classroom; and planning, developing, and implementing programs that prepare students for the next phase of life.
The District has completed the reorganization of the central office. There were three major reorganizations in 2015-16; Student Services, Teaching and Learning, and Special Services.
This new organization has identified new roles for the directors and facilitators which is to provide support to teachers and principals in every classroom to help prepare each student for the next phase of life.
The district has developed and implemented a curriculum development process to ensure all K-12 students have the opportunity to learn the curriculum. The district is currently working on the K-12 Math curriculum which will include adopting new math instructional materials for teachers to use to teach the curriculum for 2017-18 school year. The district has developed and implemented a continuous improvement process. This process has allowed the district and schools to focus on data that helps determine what’s working and what’s not for student learning.
Utilizing this continuous improvement process, the district has identified improving K-12 math achievement and student engagement as goals for 2016-17.
The district developed a two-year calendar that includes a professional development plan that provides training for teachers and principals to improve their daily performance. The district is using the Professional Learning Team model which allows teachers and principals time to meet and discuss instructional practices which have the greatest impact on student learning and the time to analyze the student achievement data to determine what’s working.
In addition, the high school schedule was revised; closed-campus was put into practice for all students except seniors for 2016-17, and traditional summer school has been revised. The elementary and middle schools implemented an Extended Learning Program during summer 2016 at Madison Middle School. The middle school reconfiguration was implemented with success.
Also, a Superintendent Student Advisory Council was developed and implemented with success. The purpose of this student team is to provide input on ways to improve communication with students and obtain input on school system initiatives. Members are secondary school students who reflect the diversity of the North Platte School District student population. Meetings are held regularly with the Superintendent.
The North Platte School District School Business Partnership program was developed and has 40 businesses participating so far. The purpose of the program is to enhance learning by connecting students and teachers to business partners resulting in learning experiences that are authentic and relevant to better prepare students for the future. The school district will excel because of this collective effort, focus and commitment on preparing students for their future.
The district has been working collaboratively with Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC), Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA), and UNL West Central Research Center exploring the possibility of offering students a career academy program. NPHS students would have the opportunity to enroll in a career academy targeting their career interest that would involve partial attendance at high school and partial attendance at one of the partnership colleges. In addition, NPHS is launching a Career Field Internship Program where students can spend a class period in an internship setting based upon a career field of choice. Student have expressed interest in the following areas, Nursing Assistant, Education, Animal Science, Veterinary Tech, Business Information Technology, Welding, and Building Construction.
The district is currently working on revising the district’s grading and reporting guidelines and redefining what it means to be college and career ready. During the months of September and October 2016, the district conducted a survey with parents, students, staff, and the community using Thoughexchange. Thoughtexchange creates online conversations with large groups of people. It also lets you ask open ended questions in a way that allows one to say all they need to say, everyone learns about trade-offs that have to be made, and realistic solutions emerge. The district will be using this data to identifying what’s working and what areas need to be improved. Also, students recently took the Gallup Student Poll which measures student engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration and career/financial literacy for students in grades 5-12. The district will be using this data to improve the learning environment for students.
I am proud to be the Superintendent of North Platte Schools where great things are happening for students and staff every day. We look forward to seeing great things happening in the future for North Platte School District.
“While there is no easy path to achieving a school's greatest effectiveness, educators believe that highly engaged and hopeful students have a strong platform for realizing their dreams for the future. Schools can work with parents and community leaders to help measure and promote student engagement and hope.”
Dr. Ron Hanson
North Platte Schools