STAFFORD — Nineteen school districts from across the state, including Stafford USD 349, will take part in Gemini II: The Space Walk Begins, which is the next round of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) announced Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
Superintendent, Dr. Angela Holloway-Payne, said her district is confident the redesign will allow teachers to better meet the individual needs of students in preparation of becoming career or college ready.
“We are very interested and vested in the success of each and every student in our district,” she said.
Already, Stafford High School offers unique programs, including a science class where students participate in a combined hydroponic and aquaponic food production project. The district intends to continue the many great things it already does, but also research additional ways to encourage even more success, she said.
“Luckily, we don’t have to do it all on our own,” she said. “The Kansas Department of Education offers extensive redesign support, and makes many experts available to us to guide us in the process.”
Holloway-Payne visited with representatives from ESSDACK Wednesday morning, discussing a range of topics including implementing trauma informed techniques and project based learning. She is currently involved in a book study with teachers on the topic. The study is allowing them to grow together, step by step, in the knowledge of what they need to do to implement new policies, procedures and practices that help students overcome adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s).
“Once we can provide this help, we can equip ourselves to help them,” she said.
Project based learning, she added, may require teachers to organize their day differently in order to provide the time to conduct experiments that call upon more than one discipline at a time. But, thanks to the previous knowledge gleaned from the Gemini I project, they will have an extensive base of knowledge to build on.
21st century education
According to a release from KSDE, in February 2018 began accepting applications for the Gemini II Project and the districts were announced April 17 during the Kansas State Board of Education meeting.
In support of Kansas’ vision for education, KSDE launched the Kansans Can School Redesign Project in August 2017. Twenty-nine Kansas school districts applied for the project. Seven districts — each one representing one of the Mercury 7 astronauts — were selected. Remaining applicants had the opportunity to participate in the Gemini I Project.
“I commend each of these districts for taking this important step in changing education in Kansas,” said Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “Change is never easy — it can even be a little scary. I am proud of the educators and community members in these districts who have committed themselves to doing what they believe is best for their students.”
All districts that applied for the Kansans Can School Redesign Project had to agree to redesign at least one elementary and one secondary school around the five outcomes established by the Kansas State Board of Education, the five elements identified as defining a successful high school graduate, and what Kansans said they want schools to provide students. They also had to have approval by their local school board with a public vote, faculty support with a vote of 80 percent, and support from KNEA or other professional organization.
The districts had to be willing to launch a new school redesign in the 2019-2020 school year and be willing to serve as a demonstration site for other districts in Kansas to study, learn from and visit.
To learn more about the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, visit http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Fiscal-and-Administrative-Services/Communications-and-Recognition-Programs/Vision-Kansans-Can/School-Redesign.