ISSUES 2017 09/24/17

Steve McIntosh
Thursday, September 21st

Wichita public school superintendent Dr. Alicia Thompson discusses educating more than 50,000 students in USD 259


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

This is issues Tony 79 Steve Macintosh and against his Wichita school superintendent. Doctor Alicia Thompson welcomed issues Tony seventeen. To speak on July 1 doc Johnson took over the superintendent job replacing John Allison. Who moved to a later to be superintendent there and Alison had been Wichita superintendent since 2009. And now. Doctor Thompson you've been on the job for humans what are your initial impressions. We have. Dumb mistake as well as my first impression. Yes I've got to deadliest day. I've been on the job for two months and very quickly I realized you know my experience from being a kindergarten student all the way up until. Sitting in SC two months ago I realized very quickly how little do I know about being in the role of the superintendent. Well that's not a job that everybody has now or do you just kind of mentioned there that you're actually use a term homegrown. Definitely selling of tomato plant that quote grown educated. In Wichita schools talk about temperament that we please act. I am I was born and raised here in Wichita Kansas and I. Started it was a tough up journey with the which top public school as a kindergarten student. I went to school at Carter elementary school which is now wholly. Holy savior Catholic Church at this point. And I was there until I was in the fourth grade and when I got in my momma look only fourth grade teacher there and building and she say it. I did not want to teach you all day and then go home with you too so. She shipped me off to Chisholm trail elementary school where finished elementary school there and attended Brooks middle school. And heights high school graduate of high school. To where you go bust then by your mother as his. Why don't get the ball deep when you're young who inspired you to become an educators you're brought up. Who inspired me was. A kindergarten teacher there was a teacher at Carter elementary school. I just remember going to kindergarten and I'll never forget being very very scared my parents kind of nudging me and pushing me you know in that room. And then there was a young lady there and she had this great big smile on her face and she said well. And coming you know on kindergarten teachers aren't there hanky and Lovie and I thought how can I think I can do this. All door in the day and are doing my kindergarten years she told me how wonderful Iowa and have beautiful Iowa and house tomorrow. And I always remembered that and so when I got did she is my profession you know you go as a student you kind of go from here they're dear Yonder. But my mother used to tell me you know make sure you pick a career in which you're going to really enjoy wanted to everyday and whatnot and it went right back to that kindergarten teacher. I want to make keys feel the exact same way the. She made me well there are more than 50000 students in USC 259 plus teachers and staff. Does that responsibility ever seem overwhelming to you of course task of course it does however when you had a good team around you. Harm you're able to do anything. All right so he did the exit team that capsule okay. And yet still commit a little bit about the something that really fishy to me and that is that diversity of Wichita students we've just gets something and everything out there right at us we do is talk about detriment. Comedy you know that's one of the things that we pride ourselves upon is the diversity that we have we have an art school district a hundred in nine languages that are spoken in the homes of our students. That come from ninety plus countries of origin. And so we're very very proud to have that such a diverse and meg gives our kids the cutting it so when they're going off to college into the workforce they have had experiences. Being able to work in a diverse settings. Yes and I find that sole interest and we talk about homeless many different languages spoken in the students' homes. That challenge to when they get to school what do you do you have to teach him and English for. It is definitely a challenge however. You know it gives you know while it's a challenge it also is an asset in the clash and as well because our kids are X also those different languages. And the different ways in which other cultures and live. And until it really is an advantage to our student so it is a challenge however it also is an ass. Some of your students don't have homes. Talk about that for a little bit yes we do have. A significant homeless. Program within our school district. Eight and again that when we when the students come into our doors we we embrace them. And you would never know when you come into into the building. Who's homeless who has been who has a home because all of our students begin today and kind of you know. Feed upon each other and grow from each other so again that he is the diversity that we have within our school district that makes us great and we told him. The size and it is the size of this school district UST 259. And actually it's. Just about the biggest in this part of the world instant yes biggest between what candidate in something like JD Ito that time. Didn't we are no we are it. Put it just respect okay some of the school districts that we have at the school district the state. We have about 282. School districts and averages 17100 students. So to put that into perspective we educate about 11% of the state. Students. With an in which top public schools and are some of the average high school average. Districts are the size of some of our high schools just north didn't. East so yeah we have we have a large school districts amazing yes a couple of. There's been some reporting about disciplinary problems in classrooms. What's being done to ensure that don't generally students at the end it was it was properly dealt with doctor. Yeah I'm up first I want it kind of explain a little big epic that's kind of blown a little bit add up proportion. We we when you talk about the behavior issues that we have. If you dig into our data which you'll find is that's probably about between five to 7% of our students that you're talking about. So the other students that we have within our school district that 8586. Kids percent of the kids are doing exactly what we need them to do they come to school prepared ready to go. That's not pursue it kinda it's escalated to be there but what we will do with those particular students as we know that the students come to us with a lot of trauma. They have had some kind of something significant it has happened in their lives such as being a Foster care student. Could be death and family may be a parent being incarcerated. And so they come with us with these with some trauma in their lives and so what we're doing is we're doing it and I extensive study. On those particular student and then we're training our teachers to be equipped to be able to deal with the students once they come into our buildings we have special curriculum. And outside consultants that are coming in the supporting us in this work. We should never get the impressionist. Utter pandemonium and there. It is not it was great place when I was in class or may it was that was easy drag and I was. It is always a challenge yeah Hollywood had yet to eat other people. I guess promote the idea that public schools are a mess. There it is it's just it's crazy nothing good ever happens there but you're told me that your teachers are. Going that extra miles find out what's going all these kids absolutely that's our job we are public settings and we would educate all students. And we wanna make sure that we give every student that comes through our doors to quality education that they desire now you tell me that the teachers have the opportunity to. Being nurturing and helpful what about it. Authority in the needing to maintain proper learning atmosphere and they have the Port Authority as individuals to to deal with this app is actively. And absolutely and those of the things that we're working with our teachers to be able to to really be able to understand the students that are sitting in front of them. And being able to create strategies and opportunities for those kids to be successful in the settings. And we also know that we also have building administrators and also classroom teachers. They'll also be able to if there's there's additional needs that need to happen for the students were able to do that as well. Well with it a few exceptions over the years and. I was gonna knock on live a better not. These our public schools here in Wichita I think you've been well can I be complementary. Fairly uneventful as for its security problems are concerned but there is occasionally. Something that goes on talk a little bit about maintaining overall safety and security in schools for those 50000 plus kids can't we. Are so. I'm fortunate to have. Such. Mostly skillful. People that work are in our safety services. You know just like teachers are always looking for best practices for clash and instructional places. That's exactly what our operations of our safety division does for us they're always looking for the next greatest thing or the the best practices as it relates to use keeping kids safe. So because of their efforts you don't. We seem to be uneventful because we always looking for the best practices so that we can ensure safety in our schools. You're talking a minute ago about. You as a student but Q you talked a little bit about your teaching career here in the public schools to me about settled. The FIA. Act it was started out as a teacher and a school called Eagles global magnet school. And is now. Assistant principal at cloud elementary school. And then I was a principal also little early childhood incest elementary school and then moved on to staff development and assistant superintendent of elementary schools and and now I am currently in this role is to protect. And as you were coming on through his through your professional career did you have a mentor or mentors. Who really kind of helped Illinois yes. Mr. Billy pricking me. Is a gentleman that I really nurtured me as a classroom teacher. He saw something in me and asked that you don't see yourself you don't you know we're see yourself that way as a young person. And encourage me to continue to move along that journey so leadership potential in me put me in different positions within the building to take on leadership responsibilities. And from there I just moved along he's been with me he's still with me today and I mean I visit with him often and he continues to encourage me along my journey. Are you listening to issues Tony seventeen on the Entercom radio stations that I guess is Wichita school superintendent doctor Alicia Thompson. How are you Christie 259 students doing on test scores. Well it's kind of interesting that you say ask about those we are moving into a different a way that we assess students. And we are not looking band this state actually doesn't look for say at the test school was to determine whether school successful. In order to be back into it to be accredited now they are looking at multiple things they're looking at our graduation rate they're looking at pre kindergarten readiness. They're looking at our social and emotional. Data that we are collecting. I'm those are the ways in which they are looking to see because what we've heard from are at stake holders in the state is that people. Really want to know do you have a will rounded student. You know can they get along with others do can they self regulate it sold this state has given us room bricks and lots of ways in which we evaluate. I entire aspect of our system not just one data point. PG jazz have been too much emphasis on test scores you think. I think that big test that we have been given are just one point in time for students and it does not give a full. Perspective of the success of astute. What are other variables are intangibles and child's education. What's what's important is that the students not only do they have academia. Work we need to make sure that they know how to read and we need to make sure that they know how to do their arithmetic as people would say but they also need to know. How to work together collectively teams. They need to know how to be on time when it's time to go to work all soft skills that you need to be successful at work. So we know that students need to be that well rounded. Thanks and that's exactly what we're looking at two pieces of the students to determine success. Okay now you have some legal parent and community listening. I'm gonna scheduling for redundant commercials on October 24 and Wilbur and then you go through November 30 fell below what are you going to do at these obsessions and. Do well. I'm as disappointed as I as I stated earlier you know you think you've been in the district for a long period time you think you know a lot but the first thing you need to do is a good leader. Is really to go in to listen. To the organization needs to listen to the internals stakeholders which would be back to our teachers students. And other staff and then I need to make sure that app out in the community listening to parents and community members. Arm just anyone who has interest in the school system and just listen to what they want. For our school district because again the school district allow subsidy which talks we wanna make sure that we're giving. The city of what to tout what they want and they desire for their students when lately cost schedule available at USD 259 dot org is that correct. That's absolutely correct if you find out a lot of stuff and we go to that web page absolutely suck it. Talk about. This about the value you place on extracurricular. Activity clubs arts sports. All that stuff outside plaster absolutely we are really excited and fortunate in the we're. Top public schools because we have so many opportunities for our students within which top public schools. All the way from our magnet school choices JR OTC added we have advanced placement classes you have. Career technical education and pathways that kids can go through. To receive certificates when they graduate. So we are very very fortunate to have all the choices that we have as a matter fact we are actually having. On our choices there on November the eighth is our choice is there and we actually have a new name because we really want we were excited about our magnate schools what we want to. Really emphasized opportunities. So our choices spearheads and today we'll and a new name is called the showcases. Of choices and opportunities. And so we want to invite anyone that is interested in learned about the choices and opportunities to come out on November the. I even remember the eighth and again more information can be added UST 259 dot org. You day do you have much gun in my talk about the extracurricular activities just for a second what are your predecessors said that's more of the for many kids actually recently come to school. Do you agree with us. Yeah I do I think you know kids kids and now at least I know I have my kids to they'd like to feel connected to something they want to be engaged in something that happens. And so what we need what we have done is we've had the opportunity to kind of listen we have this thing called super sac where it's a super tennis advisory council wears high school students that come in and tell us. What they need in order to make their experiences really excitable and really where they want to be there so the weekend. Grasp onto them and teach him so that he can get out and graduate. And so what we have been able to do is create opportunities for kids to engage around the things that they are interested in. And what we what we find is when kids are engaged they come to school. They can get they it they need. They engage with their teachers they build those relationships with their teachers. And because of those types of things are able to receive the education that they're receiving and then able to graduate and be productive citizens. Doctor Thompson you have much contact a business leaders they didn't always talking about bringing well educated people into the workplace do you talk to business leaders I do on a regular basis. I'm hints why you know we have tons of partnerships within our school district and and an inclusive of that are a lot of our local businesses. And I don't listen to them as they tell me and hence why you know we're taking a look and not just the academic piece of that possible soft skills and they say Eagles areas in which we need to continue to work on. And build the students that the when they come into the workforce they not come to work on time and they know how to work collaborative to go all those things that we talked about earlier. That's what our community is telling us our leaders in the businesses are telling us. Yeah I've been hearing a lot of them lately about. The younger people in and the soft skills getting along with the people getting their own time. And it seems to have more maybe our generation's gotta second nature but it has to be developed and nurtured and you know what what we do what we. I find is is that you know that when you have students that come from some of the environments that some of our kids come from that's not something that's taught in the home. And so again. We we take where what what the population that we serve and we know who sitting in front of us and then we build. A whatever we need to build around him to greet give them those soft skills and academic skills to be successful. The budget process has been complicated in recent years. By the state legislatures. Changing approach to spending. Gillick for things to settle down into peak anytime soon. Well I am hopeful that. I'm hopeful. I act out what actually and say is that and we did get the opportunity to. Have a little bit of root what I see is relief is that we are at least not cutting. And so that's that's something to be thankful for and we are hopeful. That as they continue to deliberate in making decisions about what happens in the future that they keep in mind that. The Wichita public schools in any other school district you know we educate the future workforce and we need to make sure that how we take that into consideration as decisions are being. Over the past few years I've watched this process frankly and reported about it on the air and it seems that I can only. The only thing I can see is the way it changes gusties who have but it it seems to be a little bit like sewing but not a custard pies to make a budget does that sound right to you. Yes that's a good person you know I felt like I was drinking out of a fire holes. But the way the that solo. A little ground India and so my first experience of building a budget Alice thankful that mr. Allison was still here doing that time at the beginning to kind of. You know kind of spoon feed me a little bit so. I have a good again as I stated before. Having a wonderful team around you can do anything is alive was great to have a good team to collaborate with the work with as we withdraw so where you any good at math when your. Yeah. I. Am an English language arts but as I did calculator and yeah yeah yeah right now are you confident that our lawmakers have a good handle on the education issue. I have a lot of confidence in our legislators I think. They're good people and I think they want to do what's best for our state and so I have every confidence that they'll do the right thing. Looks like this Yule ball and improvements are pretty much complete what impact is at hand. On morale not only for students but teachers and staff members what's impact him. I think it has been fantastic. Again as we speak about the safety that you talked about I mean we wow who can say in this in this country that they had every school has a safer. For their students to be an and we thank. The city of which atop. And our voters for being able to provide that opportunity for our students that is in our staff so that's been great. And then when you know the pride that you have when you walk into a wonderful a facility. That with with with bright colors and you know all those things that had an impact on students and not only these students but the staff they they feel good in the spaces in which they work. Not only that but recently. Air conditioning owned by goodness yes how could have been getting air conditioning when you Darryl did you get I was a teacher and then handle and a national audience I mean and you can hurt you had a screaming Yale you know try to topple liberals say hands and so. Yeah they're they're suppose compared to what we have and couldn't get. Yeah and you were talking about I've always felt that reading this is the first thing if you can teach somebody to read effectively than they can. Pretty much educate themselves if they can follow instructions but there are also some us you do we teach us history. I'm thinking that we don't but maybe I'm wrong the kids don't seem to be and should. History week we actually have standards that are given to us by the Kansas State Department of Education. And so when you look at the standards that is a requirement so we do absolutely teach. History inside of our schools and we teach exactly to the curriculum that we are needing to do and of course there's tons of opportunities our kids go to Topeka. And learn about the government's so we have tons of opportunities to learn about history yet to use up than two courses that I really found valuable or. Drivers ahead. I don't think you knew that I morneau and voice foods. Bully or not voice yes I was told by mrs. ran over West High School I know her yet. Call quality. And so that was still survive the ocean life skills Aaliyah and the different. Different part of his decision absolutely now the the upgrade is culinary arts well yes we have caller yarns boy India have even a Gloria and yes yes. Culinary arts yes while on globex school yeah. What is your biggest challenge as Wichita school superintendent I am the biggest challenge that we are starting to find is recruitment of a of teachers. And so we really are trying to find really creative ways in order to recruit so I would say is one of the biggest challenges is recruitment. Of of classroom teachers and especially in particular and some of this sciences and mathematics. Teaches a recruit and McCain and what has you excited about what's happening in UST 259 you're obviously a person of whose enthusiastic and positive what what's the most exciting thing you about what's happening in USD 259 right now that energy from the staff. Teachers the administrators. The downtown stamp the people at our school service enact. They are amazing and they have lots and lots of energy so what motivates me. It's just the people that we had in our students in the families that we have and our ability to be able to work together for the common good of our key. You touched on this about the difficulty in recruiting teachers. There's is there young people out there might be solicitous and listening to us right now. There may be never even thought about being an educator what would you say the young person who might have the opportunity to be an educator a teacher administrator. So forth. Well you know this this profession is one that is holder Lee. The gives you the ability to give back. To your community in so many different ways to impact the lives and changed the trajectory for families in the in your community. And so it's more into it than just reading and writing and arithmetic it's about the relationships that are being built. And the strong foundation and the way that you minter and build relationships with kids and to give them the whole. That there is life a better life outside of the ones that they live in. That is an awesome awesome profession to go into. What do you do stood in his spare time to underline maybe I should master that. Well you know black and hobbies are doing is just well I I I do some community service work through some organizations that I belong to. I don't church. And and then I have a wonderful family two daughters and husband and I spend my time so that's what I did that keeps you busy day very very giving him time to go play goal Fargo efficient now I don't know how to play golf and see and then I have to make up an excuse that I want embarrass myself out there yourself. No I don't have time for them. Somebody understaffed knows I don't play golf and you just send them. For you that yes you go to your surrogate golf Bastia that I got your first line thank you for spending some time with his I'm really excited about the fact that somebody. Who came through a USD 259 just out the top and then that's pretty interesting in a gratify our guest. Wichita school superintendent doctor Alice Alicia Thompson that's all for this edition of that Tony seventeen issues when will be back next week. Thank you for listing I'm Steve Macintosh.