SMSD superintendent highlights new mindset at fall breakfast
As in years past, it was a packed ballroom at the Overland Park Convention Center Thursday for the annual Shawnee Mission Education Foundation Fall Breakfast.
The breakfast serves as the largest single fundraiser of the year for SMEF, which works to raise funds for Shawnee Mission school district classrooms. It generally raises upwards of $150,000, said Linda Roser, executive director of SMEF.
It’s also a time to celebrate district successes through social media, videos, live student performances and presentations, and Superintendent Jim Hinson’s State of the District address. At this year’s breakfast, Hinson took the opportunity to highlight a number of those successes, but also spoke at length about the future of the district and its students.
“Think about this question: Is what we’re doing currently in public education relevant?” he asked audience members, which included district staff and teachers as well as area businesses and community members. “As you think about this question, keep in mind that today’s kindergarten students represent the Class of 2028.”
Milestones highlighted by Hinson included the $223 million bond issue approved with overwhelming support last January, which has gone and will continue to be used to support improvements to many buildings in the district as well as the construction of new elementary schools in all five high school feeder areas. Additionally, Hinson spoke about the success of the digital learning initiative, which has put a laptop or iPad in the hands of every single student in the district. Program developments were also highlighted, from the expansion of the STEM-based Project Lead the Way program to include more elementary schools this year, to the introduction of a new physical education program, Starting New at Golf in School, or SNAG. The program will provide golf instruction for all elementary and middle school students in the district.
Going forward, Hinson said the district would need to change its mindset from a fixed one to a growth one, keeping in mind that a main goal of educating students is to give them the tools they need to be prepared for the world after high school graduation.
“Our priority is again to make sure that all means all in the Shawnee Mission school district,” he said. “We refuse to be defined by circumstance. We refuse to give you an excuse of what we can’t do for our children. We’re committed to ensuring that all of our students are prepared for their life ahead. Our challenge is to make sure the education we’re providing students includes both rigor and relevance, coupled with relationships.”
He also rallied audience members to continue to support the district as much as they can, saying that “to transform education in this way, we need people to get involved in our schools and our classrooms.”
“Our motto this year is not to be the best we can be, it’s simply to be the best,” he said. “Because the children you send to us every day, it’s what they deserve.”