Superintendent’s Corner

Embracing the Principles of Success

By Don Stevens, MAPS Interim Superintendent
One of the most interesting aspects of my work is reflecting on changes in education over the years and staying up to date on the latest trends. Education, like so many other things in our lives, is changing rapidly and in such a way that the well-known traditions of school are evolving to meet the needs of students.
For instance, while many of us envision classroom learning taking place in a traditional setting-with rows of desks and a teacher at the blackboard-you might be surprised to visit many MAPS schools. You would see students working on computers, in small groups and on projects that mimic the work they’ll do later in life.
Not only is student work often more rigorous than it was the past, but it’s also more directed, measured and focused on specific goals.
Perhaps the most striking example of change is at our district’s own little red school, Maple Grove. Although on the outside it looks much like it did back in 1904, the school uses an innovative Expeditionary Learning model, with students learning much differently than they did decades ago.
But as education changes, I believe that what makes a district’s schools great often comes down to some fundamental principles.
The first is that community members must come together around their shared values for their schools.
Even before moving to Merrill, I was aware of the great tradition of community support for it schools. Merrill graduates have done well because the community long ago decided to truly support education locally. While political differences may cause some to disagree, we must continue seeking common ground.
The second principle is to focus on providing the knowledge and skills students need for future success.
To me, one of the greatest MAPS traditions is its priority to connect learning with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills students will need later on. This is a hallmark of education in Merrill that should continue in the future.
The third principle is to keep raising the bar for students, teachers and administrators.
We know that our graduates will enter an extremely competitive job market and economy, and that they need a great education. At the same time, our community is rightly focused on cutting waste and making the most of its investments in its schools.
Education will continue to evolve, even more quickly than in the past. While we should embrace change as positive, we must also focus on the things that have made this district great.

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