Good morning Neosho! Wow, how about that temperature change, in the '60s on Monday and the '20s on Tuesday?

This past week has been a busy week in Wildcat Country with many great things going on for the students of Neosho.

As I thought about what to share this week I decided to share information on the partnership Neosho R-5 has with the Southwest Center. The Southwest Center is an educational consortium group located in Webb City that focuses on providing up-to-date professional development opportunities and support to teachers, administrators, and school districts.

The Southwest Center was founded in 1996 by a visionary group of administrators to focus on providing three main services for school districts. The center sought to provide networking opportunities for professionals, share strategies for improving educational opportunities, and avoid unnecessary duplication of services among districts. This was the center's initial charge set forth by the founders but it has since evolved into one of the premier education consortiums in the state. The Southwest Center is comprised of 42 school districts representing 55,000 students and 7,000 teachers. Charter members include the following districts – Avilla R-XIII, Carl Junction R-I, Carthage R-IX, College Heights Christian Schools, Diamond R-IV, East Newton R-VI, Golden City R-III, Jasper R-V, Lamar R-I, Liberal R-II, McDonald County R-I, Neosho, Seneca R-VII, Webb City R-VII and Westview C-6.

As the center has grown and evolved throughout the years its services have as well. Below is a list of services the center currently provides not only to member schools but all schools who wish to take advantage of them.

1. Development of a collaborative legislative platform with the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis and CSD-GKC.

2. Lobbying and representation on local, state and federal educational issues and updates on key votes and legislation.

3. Opportunity for administrators and teachers to network with others on a regular basis.

4. Professional development offerings by nationally known education leaders and trained staff on relevant, quality and research-based classroom instruction and leadership opportunities. During the 2013-14 school year, the SW Center is hosting an Innovation Academy featuring Alan November.

5. Discounts for instructional programs sponsored by participating vendors.

6. Participation in the Administrator Summit, Technology Summit and Celebration of Schools.

7. Participation in two Teacher American History Grants — Traveling America's C's, Decisive Moments in American History and Preserving America's Midwestern Heritage Grant. It appears these will be the final two of seven history grants the SW Center has participated in totaling $6.6 million.

8. Current updates from staff on DESE issues and events.

9. Collaborative opportunities provided to meet state requirements for certified and support staff.

10. Personalized assistance on district issues and needs.

On Monday evening, the Southwest Center hosted their annual celebration of schools event in the Billingsly Ballroom on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. This evening is designed to celebrate all of the great things that are going on in the schools represented. Awards are given for Board members with 20-plus years of service, Teachers of the Year from each district, a Friend of Education Award and a Making Learning Come Alive Award. Neosho saw four teachers recognized for their outstanding work and for being Teacher of the Year. Cindy Aldrich, Yvonne McClintock, Beth Hunt and Sherry Hoover were honored. What a tremendous blessing it is to have such wonderful teachers working with our students. The keynote speaker for the evening was Gov. Jay Nixon. Gov. Nixon spent the evening talking about all of the great things public schools are doing for students today and what they have done throughout time to make America the country it is today.

We are very fortunate to be a partner in such a great organization as we work together to provide the best education we possibly can for our students. Resources like the Southwest Center provide us with the necessary tools to make our mission to Inspire High Academic Achievement and Maximize Personal Potential in all Students a reality! Have a great week!

Dan Decker is superintendent of the Neosho R-5 School District.