Superintendent News

Looking back on life, I am very appreciative of the opportunity to grow up on a hobby farm.  It was modest even by modest standards, but it was enough to instill work ethic and responsibility.  

I bought my first full-sized bike with money that I earned by selling sweet corn on the side of the road at the intersection of Highway #2 and Highway #6.  We had excellent sweet corn, but word of mouth was only effective for local buyers.  Others had their own methods to determine ripeness and quality.  Some would peel the husk three fourths of the way down the cob to get a full view of the kernels.  I witnessed one guy push his thumb into a kernel until it popped.  Those “tested” cobs of corn were usually left behind.  

 I hatched chickens and ducks out of an incubator.  We had a few pigs. I sat out in the shed one evening while my sow was giving birth.  I think everyone should have the experience of watching life come into the world.  

My Uncle Roger was a welder for Dow Chemical and farmed on the side.  He raised a few beef cattle - mainly Herefords with a few Black Angus and an occasional Charlolais.  He grew soybeans and corn. 

We liked to visit Uncle Roger’s farm because seeing the Drake Farms’ sign was pretty cool and he had large equipment - especially compared to the Ford 800 series tractor accompanied by a two-bottom plow at our house. Having the right equipment maximizes production.  Irrigating a field helps to ensure that optimum growing conditions can be achieved.  

Creating the conditions to maximize work efficiencies and production are important in industry.  Although most people probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, those conditions are also important for schools. 

Adams and McKinley were built in 1939. The U.S. Census Bureau listed the following top six jobs at that time:

  1. Farmers
  2. Farm Laborers
  3. Clerical workers
  4. Servants (bell boys, butlers, cooks etc.)
  5. Stenographers, typists and secretaries
  6. Teachers

This is a list of in-demand jobs projected for 2025 from LinkedIn:

  1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Specialists
  2. Data Scientists and Analysts 
  3. Healthcare Professionals 
  4. Cybersecurity Experts 
  5. Software Developers 
  6. Renewable Energy Technicians 
  7. Environmental Scientists 
  8. Logistics and Supply Chain Managers 
  9. Remote and Hybrid Work Specialists 
  10. E-commerce and Digital Marketing Professionals

The most in-demand skills?  Analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, complex problem solving, critical thinking and analysis, creativity, originality and initiative, leadership and social influence, technology use, monitoring and control, technology design and programming, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, and reasoning, problem-solving and ideation.  

The world has changed.  The workforce has changed.  The skills required in our workforce have changed.  To be effective, we are charged with preparing students with these skills - often for jobs that don’t even currently exist. Creating the right environment and conditions is vitally important.  Having the necessary tools is essential.  

What is needed?  Flexible learning spaces where students can work both independently and collaboratively.  Project-Based learning is centered around the concept of addressing real-world problems.  Students take more ownership of their own learning by selecting a problem, researching a topic, creating potential solutions, evaluating/testing their solutions, presenting to an authentic office and taking time to reflect on their learning and process afterwards. Students are learning about the principles of engineering.  They are acquiring scientific reasoning skills.  They are being taught how to become active problem solvers.  Creativity, higher order thinking skills, communicators, engaged learners, character all leading to contributing citizens - this is the vision for Otter education.   

To be most effective, we also need school buildings designed to provide specialized support areas for students.  These may be areas designed to support students needing occupational therapy, mental health support, behavioral support, English Language services and remedial assistance in the areas of math and reading.  

Every industry, including public education, must be receptive to change.  The ability to adapt as societal needs morph and evolve will be critical for the success of public education and for the health of our local communities.