Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Helping students choose a course of study in a changing workforce is challenging for parents

I am often asked about how best to prepare students for the workforce of the future.   This is a challenging question, since technological change and globalization have accelerated the pace of economic change in our world.   In fact, about half of the jobs we will need in 2020 don’t yet exist.

To parents and others guiding students into key decisions as we start another school year, I have three simple pieces of advice.

First, postsecondary education is required of everyone.  Gone are the days of a high school graduate being guaranteed a job making a middle-class wage.  Nearly all jobs in the future paying a living wage will require some form of education beyond high school.  This does not necessarily mean college in the traditional sense.  In fact, many future jobs require postsecondary education, but not a four-year degree.  One of the best things we can do as families and as a community is to create the expectation that education after high school for ALL is the expected norm.

Second, do not advise your student to choose between a career path or a college path.  It is no longer an either-or proposition.  Students should be exposed to a curriculum that includes some of both paths.  All students should take advantage of opportunities to learn career and technical skills like coding, job shadowing, a co-op experience, internship, or apprenticeship.  However, students do not need to limit themselves to just focusing on a narrow career or set of technical skills.  Which leads me to my third point. 

Since many jobs of today will not exist in ten years, students will need to learn how to think, problem solve, and interact with others—these skills are part of the core liberal arts curriculum.  A few months ago, Owensboro native Bracken Darrell, the CEO of Logitech, told business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast that he would rather hire English majors because their education is never outdated by changing technology.  In fact, several Fortune 500 high-tech giants like Google and Facebook are increasingly turning to liberal arts graduates with degrees in English, history or psychology to focus on people-driven functions rather than just focusing only on tech-savvy engineers. 

The bottom line is that a balanced, well-rounded curriculum should be at the center of any educational experience.  That is a core reason we focus on the “whole child” in the Owensboro Public Schools with a strong academic curriculum along with the arts.  OPS also offers students a host of options with programs such as the Early College Academy, Bluegrass Scholars, Owensboro Innovation Academy, Advanced Placement courses, and several career pathway programs in programs as varied as masonry, carpentry and electrical technology.  If you have questions contact us and let us know how we can help you find the right pathway to your future!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Olusola's segment on the powerful influence of teachers sets tone for district effort to empower educators

The recent segment on the OPS Youtube Channel  highlighting Kevin Olusola is a great example of the role educators play in the lives of the students we serve. 

Educators stand at the entryway to the world for generations of children.  They stand for all that is fair and good.  In some cases they are the most morally impressive adults that many of our students will ever know. They represent to them the pillars of our free society: knowledge, justice, and the fairness of law.  Everyone celebrates a personal memory of individual teachers, yet collectively our society has developed a culture to affix blame on public schools whenever we experience an economic or social crisis. 

And over the past year to year and a half from budget cuts, pension crises, and talk our school voucher programs, the very idea of free compulsory public education for ALL is under threat.

I am beginning my second four-year contract as superintendent of the Owensboro Public Schools.  A major focus for me during the remainder of my tenure is going to be supporting teachers and safeguarding the public education we provide to this community.  I want to continue to build on the trust and confidence that our community has with OPS and continue to promote and advocate for public education.  Our community and this school district have long been a beacon for the state and nation for how to successfully provide high quality public education that serves a diverse population.

We know how important the role of a quality teacher is to the success of a student.  We know that teachers working together collaboratively focused on high expectations and best practice can make all the difference in the world.   I want OPS to be known as a place where teachers are supported.  Where a high standard of teaching and learning is found at all levels and expected of everyone we hire.  Where meeting the needs of the student are placed at the center of what we do every day.  We stand miles above the national rhetoric about public schools.   We have public schools that are also school of choice for our community with options for students in the traditional and innovation sectors with a thriving arts program and a strong focus on academic success.

I am excited about our new DRIVE initiative. It is an entirely teacher driven and directed effort. DRIVE—which stands for Developing Relationships and Inspiring Visionary Educators-- will work to improve collaboration between schools to produce the best educational methods possible to engage and support our students.

DRIVE will be working to benchmark the teaching profession in our district with the top performing education systems around the world and focus on ways to improve the work environment, make sure our compensation is more than competitive, and elevate the status of the teaching overall. 

Most importantly DRIVE will advocate to Empower Educators in our district, so that we can collectively fight for the continued existence of a strong, effective system of free public education for all children.  I believe public education is one of the most important social inventions in the history of civilization itself, essential to our democratic system of government and the economic competitiveness of our community, state, and country.  

As the educators of the Owensboro Public Schools, we should dedicate ourselves to upholding the sacred trust and ideals of public education as a service to our community.  Our district will support and empower OPS educators to do just that.

OPS students will enjoy eclipse in a safe, educational setting

On Monday, August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse for the first time since 1979 that will be viewable from Owensboro around 1:30 p.m.  This occurs when the moon moves perfectly in front of the sun creating a dark sky allowing a view of the sun’s corona.  We plan to use this rare opportunity as an educational experience for our students.  When it comes to actually viewing the eclipse, it’s dangerous to look at it without the proper eyewear protection.  Western Kentucky University has graciously donated glasses/viewers making it safe to view the eclipse for all students and staff.  

We are taking extra safety precautions to make this learning experience safe for our students and staff.  This includes giving you the option to opt your student out of viewing the eclipse.  They’ll still get to participate in all of the other fun learning experiences we have planned that day except for the actual viewing of the eclipse.  

A link with our opt out from and other eclipse information is below:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pick up a book and read this summer

The days of summer are here.  I hope all of our students and staff are enjoying a much deserved break.   That being said, with the summer, comes the slide.  I’m not talking about an entry to a pool or a playground but rather a time where students can regress due to a lack of reading.  The summer slide occurs because students are not actively practicing their literacy skills.  According to Oxford Learning, a student on average loses two months of reading skills over the summer. 
summer break.

Owensboro Public Schools offers many ways to avoid the summer slide through a combination of literacy camps.  In some of our camps, students are identified as having a need for more instruction.  Those students are invited to attend a camp over the summer where they get individualized instruction with a literacy expert.  We also have camps that are open to any of our elementary students that combine fun play activities with reading games.

Another great way to avoid the summer slide at a younger age is to take advantage of the district-funded app called Footsteps to Brilliance.  This app that can be used on pretty much any mobile device and engages students in literacy puzzles and games.  In just two years, our data shows our students have learned over 17 million words through Footsteps to Brilliance.  Another advantage to this program is it provides our teachers with individual data for each student that uses the app. 

I cannot stress enough how important it is for our parents to encourage their children to read during the summer months.  Take advantage of our little free libraries at each of our elementary schools.  Take a book, leave a book for another student.  The Daviess County Public Library is another place that offers wonderful summer programming for students.  I hope everyone has a wonderful summer filled with reading for at least 30 minutes a day!

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 2017 Board Meeting Highlights

Board Recognitions
The Board of Education recognized the following groups: 

OHS Cheerleaders Black Squad, 2nd in State, 6th in National Competitions 
The Owensboro High School Coed Cheerleading Squad placed 2nd in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Competitive Cheer Championships and placed 6th at the National High School Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida.  Members of the Black squad are:  Courtney Austin, Emily Boyd, Zeke Brown, Hadley Duvall, Madison Embry, Hadley Fogle, Tripp Grenier, Zach Gross, Alissa Harrington, Breanna Johnson, Bailey McCalister, Neveah McCampbell, Hunter Morris, Mason Perry, Rhianna Pickrell, Megan Proctor, Diamond Shemwell, Wil Smith, Joey Weissend, Alexus Williams, Ahmad Wilson, and Dakorria Winstead.  The team is coached by Heather Cavitt.

OHS Cheerleaders Red Squad 1st at Regional, 16th at National Competition 
The Owensboro High School Red Squad competed in Super Varsity Non Tumbling and finished 1st at the UCA Bluegrass Regional in Lexington, KY and 16th at UCA Nationals at Walt Disney World in February.  Members of the Red squad are:  Caitlyn Aull, Alyssa Beck, Angel Canady, Samantha Carrico, Dawson Clark, Nicholas Cox, Laura Duncan, Alyssa Eldridge, Kendall Fitzgerald, Sydney Ford, Kieara Hagan, Destiny Hatchett, Sarah Heuser, Cloey Hoffman, Julia Kimbrell, Nala Lindsey, Briana McRath, Halie Newton, Alexis Poole, Daja Powell, Madison Vowels, Sydney Vowels, Madelynn Walker, Taylor Watson, Kilah Wells, and Elizabeth Williams.  The team is coached by Sarah Price.

Personnel Acknowledgements

Congratulations on your retirement!
Renee Belcher - Teacher, Newton Parrish Elementary
Sarah Faye Allen - Benefits Coordinator, Central Office        
Donna Basham - Food Service Manager I, OMS – South      
Catherine Malone - Secretary II, OMS – North
M. Yvonne Wathen  - Cook/Baker, Sutton Elementary

Congratulations on your new position!
Lyle Belcher, now Custodial Supervisor, OMS-North 
Felicia Bross, now Behavioral Specialist, Hager
Ronald S. Daugherty, now Custodian, OMS – South
Laura Johnson, now Employee Benefits Specialist, Central Office
Paul Payne, now Computer Lab Tech, Foust/Estes

OPS welcomes and appreciates our substitutes!
Suzan Hinton, Substitute Teacher          
Jennifer Fulkerson, Substitute Instructional Assistant 
Ann Lueken, Substitute Instructional Assistant 
Patricia Stelmach, Substitute Secretary