It appears that good ol’ Mr. Winter is finally going to visit us this week. It’s hard to believe the first half of the school year is almost complete. We have seen great things happen for our students the first half of the year and look forward to even more.

Good chilly morning, Wildcat Nation!
It appears that good ol’ Mr. Winter is finally going to visit us this week. It’s hard to believe the first half of the school year is almost complete. We have seen great things happen for our students the first half of the year and look forward to even more.
While we have grown in the past four and a half years, there are more things we need to focus on as we move ahead. I look forward to expanding our relationships with the community, Crowder College, and MSSU as we all work together to make Neosho the best it can be. As I thought about what to share this week I decided it might be best to take a look and compare education today to education 10-20 years ago.
In the pre-2000s students who didn’t want to go to college or trade school were still able to find quality, good paying jobs entering the labor force. However, since the year 2000 we have seen education move from a luxury to a requirement. The jobs that used to be there for students with a high school diploma are no longer there and jobs in American industry are now requiring a higher level of training than they did in the recent past. This reality has made the value of a quality education higher than it has ever been before. As a country we have never had such a high level of competition for jobs; This is true not only in the United States but around the world. Schools and communities must do all they can to ensure they are providing the tools students need to successfully prepare for their future. If you think about it, schools today look and operate much as they did 40-50 years ago. The problem is, the rest of the world has continued to evolve and grow. Albert Einstein once said, “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.” Schools can no longer prepare students for the Industrial Age as we have before because that is not the age we live in, we now live in the Knowledge Age and schools must deliver.  
For schools to prepare students to find this success there has to be a shift in thinking, some might call that change! Change is something that doesn’t occur easily, most time it is met with resistance because it is uncomfortable and causes people to move beyond their comfort zone, initially. According to author Jamie Vollmer, communities struggle with change that takes place in schools because it changes the school’s culture, and thus the community’s culture.  Walt Kelly made the statement “we have met the enemy and he is us.” For improvements to take place in schools it has to be supported by the community. Meaningful change in schools will not and cannot occur without community support. The old adage it takes a community to raise a child may never have been more true than it is now. When it comes to public education, everyone is a shareholder. Vollmer also states, “We have never needed great schools more than we do today, and our schools have never had a greater need for public support.”
As education and schools move ahead the focus has to move from a single approach to a multidimensional approach; Technology, class schedules, calendar, length of school day, length of school year, and course delivery methods are just a few. As education evolves, the District must communicate with the community the necessity of change and work with them to provide the best opportunities for students. Research shows that a strong school leads to a strong, healthy community. Neosho is doing great things for our students and will continue to evolve and look for ways to improve but it has to be a joint effort. I would like to leave you with one more thought from Jamie Vollmer, “Unfolding the full potential of every child is no longer an impractical, utopian fantasy. It’s our nation’s greatest need!”
Have a GREAT week!

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