School chief’s goal to help students bloom

BY KIRSTEN ISBELL
Clarkston News Intern Writer
Facing his first full year as superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools, Shawn Ryan has bright ideas for students.
“In the first few weeks of school I would rather have teachers focusing on building relationships with their students rather than focusing on lesson one point one, and reading Chapter One,” Ryan said.
If students have good relationships with their teachers, they’re more willing to learn and enjoy it, too, he said.
Rather than numbers, he focuses on the student as a whole, including fundamental skills, helping students find their passions, and having a purpose when they graduate.
Fundamental skills he views as non-negotiable for students include reading, writing, arithmetic and thinking.
“These are basic and important for students to learn and have a foundation for learning,” he said.
Focusing on the student as a whole includes mental health. On Aug. 24, Ryan attended a seminar at Clarkston High School about mental health first aid.
“I included all of the teachers and even opened this up for the community to be able to attend. We need to be a community and work together and we need to take responsibility for supporting them,” he said.
Helping students find their passions is another focus.
“Kids all have dreams,” Ryan said.
His goal is to make sure each student finds what they love and experience school through what they love, rather than just sitting inside in rows for six hours a day.
This has already begun to be implemented in the school district, he said.
Last year, Clarkston Junior High School teachers created a skilled trades program for students, and this year they are building a new outdoor classroom. This classroom will help students practice skills they learn in the classroom, such as building a house.
“These students will be experiencing an environment they will be working in if they stick with the skilled trade,” he said.
Focusing on passion and purpose after graduation is the last part of his vision for the district.
“This looks different for every student and this purpose could change many time within the next months and years to come,” Ryan said.
His goal is to have students moving forward, whether to college, military, or skilled trades. The options are endless, but he wants each student on a path.
Ryan was appointed interim superintendent after the resignation of Superintendent Rod Rock. After interviews, he was chosen unanimously by the Board of Education to be the new superintendent. Ryan has been a teacher and administrator with Clarkston Community Schools for the last 22 years.