During the summer break several USD 247 Southeast staff had met the district’s new superintendent, Brad Miner, but very few had been able to spend more than just a couple of minutes with him.
That changed Monday morning.
Following a short breakfast in the cafeteria, the entire staff sat, anxiously, in the auditorium at Southeast High School. They listened as the district’s Curriculum Director, Debbie Clawson, introduced Mr. Miner with a quick story.
When Mr. Miner had been offered the job but had yet to accept it, Clawson was at a curriculum leaders meeting in Topeka. She was approached by a woman from Chanute, where Mr. Miner had been a teacher, assistant principal, and at the time was a principal. Clawson was so impressed with the woman’s comments she wrote them down on a sticky note.
“She said ‘Mr. Miner might go to your district – I hate to lose him but I’m so excited,’” Clawson told the staff. “She said ‘he gets the job done’ (and) ‘he doesn’t avoid conflict, but he solves issues while preserving the dignity of the people involved – the employees, the students, whoever it is’”.
“There are lots of reasons why I’m excited to be here,” Mr. Miner told the staff. “I’m excited to be part of a school family that knows how to do great things.”
Mr. Miner quickly mentioned several accomplishments from the previous school year: multiple music students received a “I” rating at State, a state champion in Debate/Forensics, more than $4,000 in winnings at a local entrepreneurship contest, and several national qualifiers – two in Debate/Forensics, four in FBLA and four in TSA. He also mentioned several ongoing initiatives including the after school and summer program, and one-to-one iPads.
“I want to be a part of that,” Mr. Miner said. “Parents are sending their kids to us with the expectation that we’re going to educate them, nurture them, and make a difference in their lives – what an awesome responsibility.”
Married for 22 years and the father of two children who are now in college, Mr. Miner has taught technical education for several years and was an assistant principal and principal in Chanute. He is currently working on doctorate in School Leadership at Wichita State University, which, combined with taking the new job as superintendent, he admitted was “quite a challenge”.
“I am a person that believes working with students is a calling,” Mr. Miner said. “We have the responsibility to make a difference with the most important possession that a parent has, and that we are trying to fill their hopes and dreams for that child.”
For Mr. Miner, simply creating opportunities is not enough – “average” is not a good enough goal.
“We want to shoot for excellence,” Mr. Miner said. “I enjoy being around school people who are passionate about kids, all kids, and are very disappointed when one student fails.”
“Each of us plays an equal role in the success of our students… we all have different levels of responsibility, but it involves all of us.”
Mr. Miner said the administrators decided to have a district theme for 2015-16: “Do Great Things”.
“’Do Great Things’ doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a big thing – a lot of times the little things are the great thing,” Mr. Miner said. “When one of our students sits by a new student at lunch and invites them to eat lunch with them, that’s a great thing.”
He also spoke about the responsibility everyone has in the success of students. The bus driver greeting kids and getting them to school and home safely. The cooks providing lunch to keep the kids going through the day. And of course, the teachers.
“When your doors close, when you go into your classroom, that is really the most important thing that happens in our district and so that is a big responsibility.”
Finances are always a concern at Kansas schools, but Mr. Miner said it would not get in the way of student success.
“You’ve done a great job of being (cost) efficient, but I want you to know that if we need things to help our kids to be successful we’re going to find a way to get it,” he said. “We have an excellent foundation. Let’s continue to build on it.”