Mexico School District to begin new strategic planning process by Dr. Zachary Templeton, Superintendent

In the following months, the Mexico School District will engage in the process of establishing a strategic plan to guide our decision-making and to establish a direction to help achieve our goals. The district’s current Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) was established during a period when the No Child Left Behind law was heavily influencing how plans would be organized. The CSIP was categorized into include five areas of focus: Student Achievement; Highly Qualified Teachers; Instructional Resources, Facilities and Support Services; Parent and Community Involvement; and Governance. Essentially, every school district had the same structure for its plan, regardless of the strengths and needs of the district. The unfortunate consequence of a plan designed without consideration of strength and need is that districts engaged in an act of compliance versus a truly meaningful planning process that could serve the district’s needs. Thankfully, those compliance requirements have been stripped away and districts are free to design a plan that fits the needs of the school and the community within which it exists.

For the Mexico School District, we will certainly be focusing on student achievement as it is the heart of what we do on a day-to-day basis. We do believe that student achievement goes beyond scores that are attained on the state assessments such as MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) and EOC (End of Course). Likewise, we understand that the ACT, while a good measure of college readiness, does not serve as a measure of future success for all students. The district has been engaged in a great number of discussions surrounding what skills our students need to possess to be successful in the future. When we ask local business owners, what skills they need from students, they rarely mention academic aptitude. In fact, personal characteristics such as dependability, basic communication skills, the ability to work with others, and other skills rule the day when it comes to employability. If someone were to take a look at a grade report from our middle school, he/she would notice that we measure students on employability standards such as responsibility, attitude, problem-solving, communicating effectively, and initiative. This is just one example of how we can define student achievement beyond standardized tests. We still want our students to do well on state tests because it is important to have strong academic skills. We simply believe that it is not enough to have the knowledge without the supporting characteristics to employ that knowledge in the work of achieving success in life.

In order to realize the success we strive for in student achievement, we have to be a district that attracts the best teachers and staff members. We have to hire the best and create a work environment that encourages those great leaders of young people to stay in our district. Our strategic plan will certainly include plans to attract and retain the best possible people to serve our community of learners. The level of commitment and determination exhibited by the teachers, administrators and staff members that we currently employ is inspiring. It is through the dedication of these people that we have been able to see so much growth over the past few years. The key for the district is to keep these outstanding educators in our district to serve the next group of students.

The Mexico School District is committed to becoming a shining example of excellence in mid-Missouri. The strategic plan will be developed with that goal in mind. We are looking forward to the day when we boast of our high achievements and our student success. Our goal is for the community to also share in this sense of pride and accomplishment. The strategic plan will be a roadmap to lead us on this journey to reaching our collective goals. Wish us luck!