By DR. DENISE GUY
We started the 2012-13 school year watching a video about building an airplane in the sky. Smiling mechanics, wearing unopened parachutes, were building an unfinished plane in flight. They sometimes had to duck to avoid obstacles in their pathway.
Through it all, the mechanics made progress and were excited about their jobs as evidenced by comments such as, “You never know what you’re going to come across up here!” Or, “We’re not just building a plane here, we’re building a dream.”
Like those mechanics, our teachers and staff started the year with enthusiasm, knowledge, tools, and even some obstacles. As I reflect on the year, it seems like we did what needed to be done while meeting new challenges along the way, and we’ve built our fair share of dreams in the process. Here’s just a brief overview of what our staff and students accomplished this past school year.
• We started the process of learning about and implementing the common core standards for English Language Arts and Math supported by a new technology tool, the iPad.
• We implemented a Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) in all schools for reading support.
• We’ve revived the importance of being a pre-K-12 system in which we all teach seniors and work together as a unified group with the goal being to serve the needs of every child.
• All of our schools have earned Standard of Excellence Awards.
• Abilene Middle School implemented a forensics team.
• For the first time students completed a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. This also opened up more opportunities for further collaboration with colleges and technical schools.
• During the year over 245,000 meals were served and our buses traveled over 150,000 miles. There were thousands of square feet cleaned everyday and over 100,000 phone calls were answered.
• Our students engaged in 2,016,000 hours of academic and technical instruction.
• Students participated in various state level competitions including band and vocal, girls and boys tennis, boys basketball, powerlifting, wrestling, forensics, golf, and track. Teams and organizations also traveled to different parts of the country to perform and participate in conferences.
• Our students voiced their concerns as they participated in a nationally recognized peaceful protest.
• The senior English class, along with WWII veterans, published a book about the experiences of those veterans.
• One hundred and thirteen students successfully graduated and will be moving on to the next phase in life.
• Some of our teachers were honored along the way. Toby Weishaar was named Outstanding Music Educator at the middle level and Abilene’s National Education Association recognized Meagan Meneley as Teacher of the Year. Learning Forward Kansas awarded AMS math teacher Mary Zey the Impact Award.
In the airplane video, one mechanic makes a reference to a wide-eyed child who is looking out the window of a plane in flight.
He says, “We do a lot of things up here. When I look over there and see that little kid, and the look in his eyes, that’s all the thanks I need.” That is certainly true of what we do in education and a great closure for another school year.
Some people like to climb mountains, some like to build planes in the sky. Some people like to teach and help shape the lives of youth.