If we were to ask each of our students to blog “what I learned in school this past week,” it would be interesting to see what we would get. I am asking myself that same question at the end of week 2, 2010. The highlight of my week came on Wednesday, in a challenge by Iowa Qwest President Max Phillips to our AEA superintendent group to: 1. Take risks and be willing to absorb failure; 2. Do more with less as a strategic direction; 3. Act as if I am the founder of my school, not just the superintendent; and 4. Work on a vision that creates new categories—challenges and changes the status quo.
I believe that we are risk takers at MNW. We are willing to try new things, to make ourselves visible and always attempt to better ourselves and our programs. But there are a number of limbs yet to climb out on. Phillips mentioned areas that have always been on my mind as well—the extended school year, competency-based instruction and advancement, and virtual learning. These, he said, are the game changers in education. And I believe that they are inevitable in the relatively short term. In Florida, right now, you can take your high school courses virtually from the state’s online school--anytime, anywhere, and you can get your diploma from the Florida Virtual High School. In Iowa we are still quarreling over the start date relative to the Iowa State Fair.
Create your own consolidation and sharing strategies, Max advised. We have already begun talks with Southeast Webster Grand and Prairie Valley Schools on how we might share courses and resources without the traditional busing of students for long distances.
So, in many ways, Max Phillips validated many of the initiatives already begun here at Manson Northwest Webster. We must not ever become so fixated on the day-to-day events of school that we forget about the bigger picture of where we are going. As Max put it, we are not trying to create Schools, we are trying to create World-class Learners.