The largest gathering of people each day in Kansas is in Wichita Public Schools’ classrooms. Nearly 60,000 students, employees, parents and volunteers come together with a common purpose – educating ALL of Wichita’s children so they are prepared for college and career success. Our students count on us to make every one of the 2,249 days they are with us days that change the trajectory of their future.
We heard what citizens told us last fall about the future of Wichita schools. You expect focus on the whole child, investment in our staff, engaged families and community partners, active communication, and alignment of resources and infrastructure to support student success. Thousands of stakeholders shared feedback, and the Wichita Board of Education and district leaders will now craft the Wichita Public Schools’ five-year strategic plan incorporating your thoughts and ideas.
Pathway programs that prepare students for successful careers with Wichita employers will become stronger and more focused, responding to business needs as well as our students’ future aspirations. Business partners, mentors, volunteers and families will be actively engaged to prepare students for life beyond graduation. Critical initiatives that impact college and career readiness throughout each student’s 2,249 days will help write Wichita’s next chapter.
Individual plans of study for every middle and high school student will focus on what a student likes to DO, which can help them determine what they want to BE. Robust choices and opportunities to personalize success will remain a hallmark of our educational menu. Current options — including the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, 24 magnet schools, and the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program – will not be diminished. Adequate resources will allow for additional career pathway programs, expanded dual credit options and initiatives to increase graduation rates.
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Sadly, some students in our community come to school with burdens that no child should bear. Many community resources families used to rely on no longer exist. Engaging partners to help meet the needs of the whole child is essential if we are to prepare ALL students for success. Focus on student behavior and the trauma that impacts social and emotional development will be a central piece of our new strategic plan.
Our students need you. Wichitans count on today’s students to be successful as tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, laborers, doctors, firefighters, teachers, parents – even the next superintendent. Help us support the future our community envisions for its schools by getting involved as a business partner, mentor or classroom volunteer. Visit our schools to see the tremendous college and career opportunities in action today. Insist that public education is adequately and equitably funded in Kansas. Help us be sure that every one of the 2,249 days a student spends in our classrooms contributes to their successful future.
Dr. Alicia Thompson is superintendent of schools for the Wichita school district.