Each and every day, I am inspired by all of the great things that I see happening in our schools and buildings. After reflecting on the things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, I am reminded to never take for granted the quality work all of our employees contribute in making Thompson a great place for our students, parents and staff.
I see our students demonstrate their learning in unique and meaningful ways. And I see the impact of our schools and district throughout the community through our improved academic test scores, our increased graduation rate and the community service that so many of our students are doing each day. I see performance at the highest level in sports as well as a variety of other activities where the discipline and talent of our students is openly on display. The talent demonstrated by our youth is amazing.
Beginning in middle school and extending through their high school years, our students are assembling “life plan portfolios” as a part of their graduation requirements. These portfolios include items such as high-level academic pursuits, practical experience through leadership activities and even a summary of their community service. Students are accessing both performing and practical arts, as well as vocational educational programs that include concurrent enrollment with our local community colleges and four-year institutions.
I see teachers welcoming students with open arms every day, asking how they are doing and planning their day around what it will to take to not just educate each child, but to also care for them as individuals. That caring goes on even before school starts as staff members provide breakfast to students and assist with the simplest kinds of things such as opening a milk carton for a young child or wiping up an accidental spill. Staff members also assist students in other important ways, such as taking the time in all of our schools to recognize our veterans and by providing an opportunity for them to understand how important our freedoms are in this great Republic.
I see bus drivers and technicians at our Transportation depot arriving for work in the middle of the night to begin the process of preparing our fleet and making the adjustments necessary to ensure that our buses are ready to welcome our students. I see staff members pre-checking buses in a deliberate way to ensure all systems are ready to go. I see dispatchers taking phone calls at 5:00 in the morning to ensure drivers know who will be on their routes, and I also see buses being started in cold weather to ensure we are ready to pick up students as early as 5:30 a.m. I drive by school parking lots and sidewalks that are being plowed as early as 1:30 in the morning.
I see a facilities staff that works in the early hours to prepare our buildings to become the warm and inviting schools that we want our kids to experience every day, as well as staff working late into the night to ensure the buildings are clean and ready to go the next day. I see all kinds of after-school activities going on in our buildings until late at night and throughout the weekends with sports and the rental of space on Sunday for church services.
I see a Nutrition Services staff that serves over one-and-a-half million meals to students each year, including breakfast and lunch. Our team begins their work in the early morning hours to prepare the balanced meals that our children need. For some of our students, these meals are especially important due to their family’s economic status. The budget for our food service program is self-sustained through student meal fees and federal subsidies and does not receive any support from the district’s General Fund.
I see administrators who are dedicated to supporting our classroom work through their leadership and caring support of our students and families. I see them working well after a normal work day because of parent meetings or activities, including science fairs and a variety of sports activities in the evening.
I see coaches working hard to have winning teams, knowing full well that should they qualify for regional and state tournaments, there is no additional pay on their base contracts for their success with their students. I see music directors who have bands that compete in state and regional competitions that require long hours of practice and also events that take up their evenings and weekends with no additional compensation. And I also see a legion of parent volunteers who form booster clubs for all of these activities to support the students in competition as well as fundraise for travel and equipment.
Thompson is a great school district. We have wonderful students and families and a staff that truly cares about doing all that they can for our children. We also have many challenges that need attention. We have work to do as a community. We need your support by understanding the challenges and assisting us with the search for solutions.
Our school board is working hard to ensure they are providing the governance of the school district that is needed to move forward in doing what is best for our students in a healthy way. Shortly, they will be asking for community input into the selection of a new superintendent. They are currently working with a search firm who will be reaching out to ensure that the process involves the entire community. Each of you will be encouraged to contribute to that process in the near future.
Public education truly does “contribute to the defense of our Nation” by providing a level playing field for all of our students that builds character and expectations regarding ethics, responsibility and service to others in our local community. We truly have much to be thankful for because of the contribution that Thompson School District makes every day.
Dr. Stan Scheer
Thompson School District