The excitement and nerves of a new school year are evident along with a tinge of sadness from the summer coming to an end. I enjoy the energy that picks up in the building this time of year and can’t help but be motived by the smiling faces of the students. The 2018-2019 school year starts with three new teachers to OPS including Madison Taylor-Kindergarten, Katie Johnson-Kindergarten, and David Breitbach-high school Science. Additionally, we welcome three new para-professionals including Jordan Ost, Morgan Prante, and Naomi O’Brien.
The Oakes Public School District will be updating our strategic plan this school year which will guide us as we set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, and ensure that employees, board members, and stakeholders are working toward common goals. More information on the strategic planning process can be found on our Website at www.oakes.k12.nd.us.
Last spring, an application was submitted for our school to partner with North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and KnowledgeWorks, an organization with nearly 20 years of experience partnering with schools and state and federal policymakers to create a system-wide approach to grow and sustain student-centered practices. OPS was chosen along with New Rockford-Sheyenne Public School District, Northern Cass Public School District, and West Fargo Public School District to embrace Personalized, Competency-Based Learning (PCBL). According to KnowledgeWorks, PCBL means meeting each student at their own level, challenging them with high expectations for academic achievement and growing student agency through:
- Instruction aligned to rigorous academic standards and social-emotional skills students need to be ready for college, career, and life.
- Customized instruction that allows each student to design learning experiences aligned to his or her interests.
- Varied pacing of instruction based on individual student needs, allowing students to accelerate or take additional time based on their level of mastery.
- Real-time differentiation of instruction, supports, and interventions based on data from formative assessments and student feedback to ensure every student remains on track to graduate.
- Access to clear, transferable learning objectives and assessment results so students and families understand what is expected for mastery and advancement.
The 2018-2019 school year will include planning for gradual implementation of PCBL starting in 2019-2020 and continuing through 2021-2022.
Personalized Competency-Based Learning aligns to the OPS Mission of “Educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world” as well as OPS Commitments of “Respect, Genuine Relationships, and Growth Mindset.”
This school year marks my 13th year as an administrator in Oakes. It is hard to believe that I started in town when our seniors were entering Kindergarten. I’m humbled to be the superintendent and thankful for the experiences I’ve had with this community.