Leadership Overland Park Session 4 – Education DayPosted on Friday, March 30th, 2012 by Ryan Fleming
In Community, tagged in Tags: Leadership Overland Park
I had been looking forward to education day since starting the Leadership Overland Park program in January, and it did not disappoint! To start the day, our class was split into small groups and depending on our preference; we were sent to an elementary, middle or high school within the Blue Valley or Shawnee Mission school districts. My group got to visit Blue Valley Northwest High School. I was extremely impressed with the students, faculty, administration and facilities. The student body president and vice president gave us a tour of the school and they were both very impressive young adults. They were confident and well-spoken as well as having knowledge and a sense of pride towards their school. Our tour included impromptu stops in a history class, government class, anatomy class and communication arts class. The teachers were gracious in welcoming us to their classes, continued their lectures and allowed us some time to observe. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the teachers in action and was very impressed with how engaged the students were in each class. Mr. Christenson’s history class was particularly enjoyable as they were discussing World War II. His passion and knowledge were impressive and I found myself disappointed when it was time for us to leave his room. I left that morning with a great appreciation for the school and all the programs they provide. The kids in this school really have some great opportunities they should be very proud of.
The morning concluded with guest speakers from each school district: Superintendents Tom Trigg from Blue Valley and Gene Johnson from Shawnee Mission. Each spoke highly of the other and both have a passion to make our area schools some of the top schools in the country. Each has seen their budgets cut tremendously from years past and both have had to unfortunately reduce teachers and facilities as well. Both were candid in their disappointment in the fact that Johnson County is forced to send 2/3’s of the school tax money it receives to other parts of the state. So for all the taxes we pay for schools in Johnson County, only 1/3 of that money actually stays in Johnson County. That is significant and continues to show how vital this area is to the state as a whole.
One program they discussed that I had not heard about before was AVID, through the Blue Valley School District. This program targets students who are somewhere in the middle of the pack. There have long been programs for gifted students and students with disabilities but this program seeks to help kids who, with just a little bit of extra attention can move from B-C students to A-B students. The program provides strategies for test and note taking and time management as well as tutoring and focuses on building self-confidence in students.
The rest of the day was good as well. We toured the Broadmoor Technical Center and had lunch provided by students in the center’s culinary program. We then travelled to the KU Edwards Campus and toured the brand new BEST Building. We heard from Dale Dennis who is the Deputy Commissioner of Education for the State of Kansas as well as those behind the creation of the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle.