More than 50,000 Wichita children found their desks, met teachers, loaded lockers and got back to work Wednesday as the state’s largest school district launched another year.
Superintendent Alicia Thompson visited schools she once attended, including Chisholm Trail Elementary School, where she announced three key objectives for her first year in the district’s top job – academic rigor; social, emotional and character development, and community partnerships.
Thompson also announced a series of listening sessions where she plans to gather opinions and feedback from employees, families, students and the community.
“Being in this seat, it’s going to be very, very important for me to begin to start to listen to what’s happening out in the field,” she said.
At Gordon Parks Academy, near 25th Street North and Grove, members of the Real Men, Real Heroes mentoring group high-fived and cheered students as they entered the school building.
At Christa McAuliffe Academy, near 143rd Street East and Pawnee, kindergarten teacher Cathy Boote read “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and then helped students make “chicka-boomer” shakers with plastic water bottles, dried beans, glitter and sequins.
“We’re gonna get those brains in your heads so smart this year,” she told the children. “They’re already smart, but we’re going to make them even smarter. Does that sound like fun?”
“Yeah!” the kids answered.
Thompson, the superintendent, said a renewed focus on social and emotional skills, in addition to academics, should serve students well at all levels.
“We want our kids to not just be really, really smart. … When they’re at the workplace or working with others, they need to be able to collaborate with one another and be able to work well within teams.
“So we’re going to really spend time working on those things.”