With the 2017-18 school year well underway and a couple weeks of work under her belt following her promotion, Superintendent Laurie Atkins has one major mission in mind through her first month on the job.
Getting everyone working together on the overall goal of making Polk School District the best in the state remains the biggest target of each year for the faculty and staff who head into the classroom each day, Atkins said.
The strategy of how to get there, and then effectively spreading that message to the public are some of her long term goals in the near future in her job.
Atkins said that when she was interviewing for the job in the past months, he came in with a clear strategic plan for the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job.
“My first 30 days is all about making sure we establish an effective, collaborative relationship with all of our partners in the community,” she said.
Atkins said working toward a “trusting, policy-driven government,” will be a big part of her plan as well.
Details of the plan will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead, with the idea in mind to form an “instructional program are operating at high levels, giving all of our kids the ability to achieve academically.”
One focus that won’t be pushed as hard as it has been with educators in the past is a reliance on using technology in the classroom for every task.
Specifically, Atkins said one goal was to make it a useful tool for educators but allowing individuals to decide on how much and when technology becomes part of their lesson plans, and not a requirement.
“Technology is fabulous, and it’s impacted our daily lives. But we recognize that we can’t replace our fabulous teachers who educate our children,” Atkins said.
Her ultimate goal is through blended environments, where the digital classroom provided by apps and internet tools has a place in learning but isn’t the main focus.
“I want to see our kids are provided with every opportunity that’s available to them to be successful, whether its through technology, or more advanced course work,” she said.
Educational opportunities are what Atkins said should be the main focus for the district in the years ahead, and the increase in recent years of student participation in dual enrollment programs, technical programs through the College and Career Academy and partnerships with local industries for learning programs are just part of what she wants the district to build on.
She said getting stakeholders in the community involved with those programs will provide additional opportunities for students, especially those who want to stay close to home.
“I want to make sure we’re producing good citizens for Polk County, and students who want to come back and live and work in Polk County,” Atkins said.