Southeast staff returned to school a week before students. It started with a meeting for all staff members.
“We had a great year last year and it was also a great summer with all of the national competitions and everything that all of the kids have done—they wouldn’t be doing it without your guys,” Southeast School Board President David Stricklin told everyone in attendance. “Every board meeting we start by saying the district’s mission: ‘USD 247 will educate with high standards through integrity and innovation while creating a caring and positive atmosphere.’ And that’s what all of this is about, to help the kids, and you guys are on the front line—everybody from the bus driver they see first thing in the day to the cooks they get their good meals from, and all of you teachers who do so much for the kids. I just wanted to thank you for everything you do and I’m looking forward to seeing what we accomplish and achieve this year.”
“One thing Mr. Miner, up and down the line has talked about, and you guys have experienced it, is the climate of the school district,” said SJHS Principal Joe Martin (above). “That climate starts when they (students) get on the bus, when they go to breakfast, when they have an interaction with a custodian in the hallway. You guys don’t realize how much easier you make our jobs as teachers because you take some of that off of us. If they enjoy the bus ride in, if we don’t have to worry about things getting fixed, that allows us to focus on what Mr. Miner keeps hammering home to the principals, and that’s what good instruction and good teaching looks like, so that we can concentrate on those things.”
“Everybody has a role,” Southeast Superintendent Brad Miner (right) would later say. “If one of those cogs in that wheel doesn’t function like it’s supposed to or is not there, it affects the whole system. It starts when those kids get on the bus in the morning. The fact that drivers know their names, that they greet them and welcome them, that sets the stage for the next stop which may be the cafeteria or the classroom. So every little thing we do, no matter what your role is, is important to the whole system working at its best.”
The district’s theme for 2016-17 is “Excellence: Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday.”
“I think that fits us very well,” Mr. Miner said. “Mediocracy is an enemy to excellence and we should always be striving for excellence in ourselves and in our students. When we settle for less than excellent we’re not doing anybody any favors. We’re not doing our organization any favors and we’re not doing our kids any favors.
“Sometimes excellence hurts a little bit. I used to get kids coming in my office as a principal and they’d say ‘it’s just too hard, I can’t do it, it’s too hard.’ And I’d say ‘well, that’s a great thing, I’m glad to hear you say that because that means you’re learning something new. If you already knew it wouldn’t be any challenge, it wouldn’t be hard, you’d already know it.’
“Some productive struggle is good for us to see in our students and ourselves. I had a lot of productive struggle this past year but (pointing to the crowd) the good thing is I have this great big family to go to for help when I need it, so that’s great.”
“We’re blessed to have a board of education that cares about us and takes care of us, and we appreciate our board members. And they’re always there—they don’t miss board meetings. We have a big picture up in the board office that says ‘Students First’ on it and has a bunch of our kids pictures on it, and if we ever get a little astray about what we’re here about, we remind each other to look back up at that picture, and that’s how they make their decisions. You’re very fortunate to have a board that supports you and is here for you.”
“The new staff members here—you chose wisely,” Mr. Miner said. “It’s a choice for us to be here and you chose wisely. This is a great place to be. I’ve experienced that first-hand myself because I’m still kind of a newbie with you.”