photo by Maddie Hawes
Superintendent for the students
March 2, 2017
The room is alive with intelligent discussion as students bounce ideas back and forth. Three sheets of post-it paper hang on the wall riddled by quick, sharpie scribbles. These scribbles depict the spewed opinions and suggestions under three bolded words: “strengths”, “challenges”, and “Supt”. The mood in the room is urgent but passionate as twelve high school students ranging from 9th-12th grade discuss the next ideal superintendent for Kirkwood School District (KSD).
Former KSD superintendent Dr. Tom Williams announced his retirement to the public Jan. 10, 2017. Dr. Williams has served children for over 40 years, including eight years with Kirkwood School district. However, Dr. Williams will officially leave office June 30, 2017, and the search is on for the best candidate to fill his position.
KSD says it is doing all it can to ensure the proper person gets the job. Peter Flynn, a representative from KSD, came to KHS to take the student’s wishes for the next superintendent into account Monday, Feb. 13. Select students from each grade came down to the main office to discuss the search. Flynn directed the student’s discussions and wrote all ideas down, hoping to accurately capture the student’s desires for the new superintendent.
Students first discussed the strengths evident at KHS like student-to-staff trust and overall school pride. Next, the students spent a lot of time highlighting KHS’ challenges. An important topic to the students was the mention of “Prop K” or the proposition to tax residents of Kirkwood an extra ¢35 for every $100 to support KHS. Other challenges for KHS from the student’s perspectives was treatment of persons of color in classrooms and overall pressure from curriculum at KHS. Students listed the values they thought the ideal Kirkwood superintendent needed. They described the superintendent as someone who values diversity, represents all students and is easily approachable by students.
“For the school to use student guidance in this decision shows their dedication to creating an environment that supports and uplifts all students,” Noah Rowan, sophomore, said.
Rowan was one of the twelve students at the meeting. He said he was honored to be part of the decision making process not only to voice his opinion, but the opinions of his peers as well.
After gathering opinions from students, Flynn held meetings at North Kirkwood Middle School and Robinson Elementary School to reach out to parents on the subject. Once again Flynn actively wrote every idea discussed during the hearing hoping to accurately record the parents’ expectations for the new superintendent. There is also a survey about the search including a section designed specifically for students zaz bnthat Flynn urges everyone to take. Flynn’s goal is to reach out to all of KSD before mapping out a profile for the type of person the district is looking for.
After the students finished listing their values for a superintendent Flynn had them place red dots on the points brought up in the meeting that mattered most to them. The students then filed out of the room and back to class, but Flynn stayed and studied the papers, which were filled to the brim with student opinions. He smiled confidently; the meeting was a success.