BY SYDNEY WIDELL —
After three days of conversation, brainstorming and analysis, the Shorewood Schools Summit concluded in what many thought to be a meaningful forecast for the district’s future.
According to the public feedback shared during the Summit, “meaningful,” “frustrating” and “refreshing” were among the adjectives the community chose to describe their experience over the course of the three days.
Participants were asked to envision Shorewood Schools in the year 2025 and present their ideas in small groups to the rest of the Summit. Visions of 2025 imagined a school district that used space creatively while still maintaining historical traditions, integrated technology efficiently and effectively, fostered an inclusive and engaged student body, explored intersections in curriculum and connected students to their community through forms of experiential learning.
As the presentations continued, audience members took note of recurring themes and when the presentations had concluded, each group shared the themes they thought were most important, in order to establish a common ground that the district can use as a resource as it moves ahead.
Finally, these items were prioritized in the order the community thought the district should address them. Topping the list were ideas like integrating authentic learning into the classroom, creating more flexible funding strategies and improving diversity within the staff. For a complete list of the ideas the Summit generated, click here.
In the discussion that followed this culminating activity, community members shared their thoughts on the items gathered.
Some community members expressed skepticism at the effectiveness of the exercise, but while the list of priorities did not contain many surprises, it was not necessarily supposed to.
“These issues that you’ve identified may already seem like reoccurring themes to many of you, but I assure you that they reflect the individual and specific needs of your district,” said Drew Howick, the event moderator from Patina Solutions, who has worked extensively with other districts across the Midwest.
As the district begins to write policy to transform these goals into reality, the community will continue to be present in the process. While extended summits like this one may only occur every five years or so, Bryan Davis, superintendent, wants to keep the community involved in the district’s planning process by including it in similar, albeit smaller, discussions throughout the year.
“I am so glad that so many people helped to make this event a success,” said Ashley Kinnard, junior and student coordinator for the event. “The most important thing was getting the community involved in this decision making process and I think that we really accomplished that.”