What a GREAT day it is to be a Wildcat! With the first quarter of the school year almost complete I must say it has been a good one. Teachers and students are working extremely hard as we continue to raise the bar for success. It is refreshing to be in the different buildings and see the level of education taking place.

Good morning Wildcat Nation,
What a GREAT day it is to be a Wildcat! With the first quarter of the school year almost complete I must say it has been a good one. Teachers and students are working extremely hard as we continue to raise the bar for success. It is refreshing to be in the different buildings and see the level of education taking place.
As I thought about what to share this week I kept coming back to how different education is today than it was when I began my educational career in 1992. What was acceptable at that time is no longer acceptable, the demand for a higher level of rigor is amazing. However, in many districts across the state and the nation the presentation of education in schools has not changed. I can say with pride that this is not the case in Neosho. We have a dedicated team committed to finding new ways to educate and prepare our students for the world in front of them.
As a country we have reached the point where a good education, once considered a luxury by many, has become a basic requirement for success. According to Jamie Vollmer, in his book Schools Can’t Do It Alone, “today, almost every child must graduate, and almost every graduate must be prepared to pursue some form of post-secondary degree or certificate.
In a single generation, we have raised the bar from requiring universal student attendance to demanding universal student achievement.” To this point, no generation of educators in history have been tasked with the accomplishment of a goal of this nature. Vollmer also states that, “as a nation we have promoted quality education for centuries, but never once have we provided even a simple majority of America’s youth with the kind of education that virtually all of them need today.” With this school of thought it would seem that the educators of today have the deck stacked against them. Educators are currently struggling to teach all students to a high level with a system purposely designed decades ago to teach only some. With the knowledge that after parents, no one plays a more important role in ensuring a child’s success than his or her teachers, we as an education system must step up our game. It is imperative that we provide alternatives that will allow each student the opportunity and tools to learn and succeed.
The first step in making this transition is to take the focus away from the teacher and what is taught to the learner, to what is actually learned. There is data to support that no matter how good a teacher is at presenting material, if the students aren’t learning, their efforts are futile.  
We must make this shift to a learner centered District, where decisions are made based on the learning that is occurring rather than the material that is being presented. We must also move away from learning being the variable and time being the constant, to learning being the constant and time being the variable. Basically we must set the bar high and leave it there, but then work with students no matter the time it takes to reach that level of expectation.
We must find ways to modify instruction that gives students who need more time, more time, while also challenging students who master the content early to achieve at a higher level. Much of this will occur not only through the changing of focus but the availability of technology tools will also be a big asset to achieving this goal.
With this in mind, communities must understand that change is inevitable. Communities and schools must move from their comfort zone of tradition and embrace change. For this change to occur and be beneficial for students, communities and schools have to unite with one common goal of high achievement for all students. The Neosho School District is working diligently to find ways to achieve this and fulfill the District’s mission to inspire high academic achievement and maximize personal potential in all students.
Have a GREAT week!


Dan Decker is the superintendent of the Neosho School District. He writes a column for the Daily News.