By Dr. John Sample
It’s that time of year when students and teachers are excited for the end of the school year. I fondly remember my own thoughts as a classroom teacher when summer was near. Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” would blare from my speakers at least a dozen times toward the end of each of my 21 years in the classroom.
While summer time still heightens the anticipation we all feel as this school year comes to an end, the weeks ahead can hardly be described as lazy days. MAPS administrators will be gathering student achievement data for our reports to our Board of Education. Summer school begins right away, with student enrollment higher than ever before. Many plans are being made at the School Forest to accommodate three separate weeks of summer camps for students. And while this may seem early, preparations have already begun for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
Much time will be dedicated to reflecting on my first year as Superintendent. It is important that achievements are recognized and positives reinforced. It becomes just as important that areas of growth are identified and action plans are created to ensure continuous improvement for our students. Please see the bulleted points below in order to provide a mindset as to the projects we are completing and the expectations I currently have for next school year.
•Communication – Over-communication will continue to be a priority for our district. Our new website will go live this summer and will be an important source of information for our parents, students and teachers. We will also be posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While these are wonderful ways of sharing important information, we recognize the need to do a better job of communicating with our parents. It’s difficult for students to experience success without a partnership between teachers and parents. We will strive to keep parents informed as this relationship is important. There should be no surprises as it pertains to student academic achievement and social/behavioral progress.
•Fiscal Responsibility – All of us at MAPS are keeping our eyes and ears open to the latest developments happening in Madison. The Governor’s budget will have major implications for our district. There will be more information shared throughout the summer as budgets are approved at the state level. Please know that your Board and the administrative team are working hard to be sure we have the latest information as this truly impacts our primary “customers” – our students.
•Academic and Career Planning – It is our mission to prepare students for the path they choose after graduation. Our students have the freedom to be successful and it is our responsibility to prepare them accordingly. We will continue to prepare our students choosing to attend two- and four-year universities and colleges. We will continue to offer students Advanced Placement courses and Dual Enrollment credit. Just as importantly, we will make students aware of the career opportunities available to them, many of them right here in our fine community. Junior Achievement, local internships and work study programs will also continue with an emphasis like never before. From the Maker Space at the elementary level to programs like Pete McConnell’s Honor Flight Pen Project to a production lab at the high school, our students choosing to create will have an opportunity to do so. Our industries have a need for skilled craftspersons. As a public school district, we are committed to preparing our students for this path of success.
•Community Involvement – We remain very involved in the community as we greatly value this partnership. The Building Merrill Together Program Series continues to be an excellent source of information and is available for all members of the community. In fact, the next panel discussion will focus on our school district and will involve a panel discussion of district administrators. “Outside the School Walls: Exploring MAPS’ Potential will take place on Monday, Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the T.B. Scott Free Library. We remain very close to the members of the Merrill Chamber of Commerce and the employee needs of our local places of employment. We continue to tour and partner with area businesses as it’s important for us to understand their needs if we are to prepare our students for success as future employees. Also, I simply can’t mention our community’s places of business without saying thank you for the support we continue to receive. I am humbled throughout the year by their support. Junior Achievement, The Great Speaker Forum, the scholarships our seniors receive and the money/time donated to our students in the form of Pride Pump dollars or Bluejay Pride checks/debit cards would not happen without the generous support of our community.
Enjoy your children this summer in whatever activities or programs you have planned for the summer. Please know that we are working hard for next year to be their best year ever. Have a wonderful and safe summer!