It is so true. You never know what you can do until you try. Maybe one of the best examples of what someone can do when they try is Jayne Ellspermann, a new friend and our cover story for this issue. Jayne is the 2015 National Principal of the Year. She went from being a Social Studies teacher to becoming a new principal of a failing high school. Her school, Westport High School in Ocala Florida, had 1400 students. Many of them didn’t want to be there and a large percentage didn’t graduate. Even Jayne’s closest friends wouldn’t send their kids there. It was an almost insurmountable challenge.
But Jayne decided to try. Fast forward several years, and Westport High is an amazing place, with 2600 students who want to be there and who graduate at a 92 percent rate. Now instead of trying to send their kids somewhere else, Westport has parents crying in the office trying to get their kids in. I think you’ll enjoy Jayne’s interview. She’ll share what she did and how she did it. You’ll be inspired, but more importantly, you’ll have some great new resources that you can try as well.
One thing that Jayne knows, and I’ll bet you do too, is that everything we accomplish in education is done through our people. According to Michael Moody, founder of Insight Education Group, the start of a new school year is an opportune time to roll out a targeted, meaningful and sustainable professional development program. Such a program can propel teacher growth and successfully accelerate learner outcomes. In his article, Dr. Moody offers five keys to supercharge your PD this year, a surefire way to enhance the value of your professional educators.
While we strive to successfully engage every learner in our current education systems, the State of Colorado has decided to create a new education system from scratch, enlisting the aid of Amy Anderson to direct a project called Reschool Colorado. They are designing a brand new education system that will serve learners – birth to career – and be designed to better prepare people for the world in which we live today and be agile enough to keep up with our global society’s rapid changes. They are working on a competency-based framework that will create clear expectations and a clear pathway to career.
That clear pathway to a career that Reschool Colorado is building is little more than a rocky trail covered with weeds and briars in most of the country. According to the SREB’s Gene Bottoms, for too many of our young people, high school — the last publicly funded opportunity many have to earn a credential of value in the marketplace — is a bridge to nowhere. In his article, Career Pathways: Bridging the Opportunity Gap, Dr. Bottoms shares eight actions we can take to build career pathways that connect the classroom with the workplace and prepare students to succeed in postsecondary education and 21st-century careers.
I expect great things in this new school year – a year in which we all expand what is possible and create success for every learner - with our hearts, minds, imaginations, grit and determination. They deserve our best. Can we do it? You’ll never know until you try.