WORDS FROM THE SUP’T: Imagination fires up education

Digital artwork by student Riley Schneider decorates Superintendent Shawn Ryan’s office. Photo provided

Over the past few months, I have used my Words From the Sup’t column to reflect on five “power” words that reflect our commitment to creating a positive learning environment in Clarkston: our students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported. Today, I’m thinking about our engaged community and the many ways this engagement drives our school district forward.
When we get together, we learn together
One of the things we often say in our district is “when we get together, we learn together.” Since school began, we have been actively engaging with our stakeholders as we lay the groundwork for our five-year strategic planning process. We asked, you answered, we listened.
If you were one of the nearly 2,000 Clarkston residents who completed our online community survey, thank you for your thoughtful feedback! Your answers were gathered and analyzed by Oakland Schools Research, Evaluation and Assessment Consultants Jonathon Good, PhD and Elizabeth Paré, PhD and presented to our Board of Education on Monday, Dec. 10. (If you missed it, you can find the full results on our website at https://www.clarkston. k12.mi.us/strategicplan2019).
What struck me most was the deep pride you expressed in our schools, your strong partnership with our schools, and your support of our people. (Every constituent group ranked “recruiting and retaining high-quality staff” as their top priority!)
Of course, this is no surprise to us. We feel your support everyday. It’s what propels our district to excellence and makes Clarkston such a magical place to raise a family – when it comes to educating our community’s future generations, we’re all in this together.
Engaged students, staff, and families
Everywhere I go, I see evidence of our engaged students, staff, and families. Learning is made visible throughout our classrooms and halls. I recently came upon some inspiring artwork that was created by Riley Schneider in Nicole Kaplan-Rudolph’s digital art class at CHS.
Riley, a junior, created this piece in just a week using Photoshop. She says she likes to take an art class each semester to engage her imagination and creativity, but it’s just one of the many things she’s interested in – she also enjoys math, and playing basketball with our varsity girls team.
I love the idea that no matter what your passion in life is, there is always room for imagination. Riley’s art now hangs in my office as a reminder to engage my imagination and continue to reach higher for our schools and our students every day!
This holiday season, I hope you seek out opportunities to engage with the people and places that tickle your imagination. Listen and learn from the voices around you. Immerse yourself in our incredible community and the beauty of winter in Clarkston.
From all of us at Clarkston Community Schools, happiest of holidays to you and yours!
Shawn Ryan is superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools

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