Journey of a Superintendent: What a Summer Vacation!

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools

“Summer time and the living is easy!” It certainly has been summer here in KCK, but our staff have been doing anything but living easy. Unless by living easy you mean putting the pedal to the metal and getting in the fast lane. There has been learning going on here all summer!

The staff of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools have been learning, planning, preparing, and really enjoying our work at full speed. It’s not surprising to those of us who know the commitment of this team. The summer was filled with learning and growing through studying, exploring, and supporting each other to stretch our skills to new levels. It was energizing!

In June, our teacher leaders and administrators participated in the “Inspiring Excellence” conference that focused on literacy, integrating technology, and innovating instruction to promote passion, purpose and creativity. Throughout the summer, teachers and teacher leaders worked tirelessly on formative assessments we call “Checkpoints” and organized items for our quarterly summative assessments tied to college and career readiness skills. In mid-July, 200 students participated in a summer “Jumpstart” program focusing on literacy and language development. The “Jumpstart” wasn’t just for students, but also for teachers and teacher leaders who engaged in rigorous professional development that will impact our efforts to ensure that all students develop as literate citizens. Very powerful! And there was more . . .

Fine arts teachers spent two weeks focusing on critical and skillful thinking skills through the “arts.”  School administrators returned in mid-July to an administrator’s conference around leadership, culture development and innovation. Our school leaders researched and identified actions of leaders to foster a culture where the district values are visible to all who are touched by our schools and district. And there was more . . .

Administrators and teacher leaders convened to focus on “checking for understanding.” This concept sounds so simple, yet it requires deliberate focus to ensure that each student is mastering the content. Research has shown that this single strategy (checking for understanding) results in students learning four times what they might otherwise. And there was more . . .

Teachers new to the district gathered together and were immediately engaged by Board Members and district leaders, fellow teachers, and staff to ensure a great start as they join our team.

And let’s not forget to mention our students who have been fully engaged in learning over their “summer vacation” as well. A thousand students participated in Kid-Zone and summer enrichment activities. Twelve-hundred students participated in “summer reading achievers” programs; numerous high school students have been on college campuses taking courses and earning college credit; and 55 students participated in engineering, bioscience, or the future teachers’ academies. And there was so much more.

As our “vacation” comes to a close and we look forward to the upcoming school year, all I can do is smile and say, “it’s up to us.” Our actions speak for themselves. Well done staff and students of KCKPS! You are “Inspiring Excellence:  Every Grownup, Every Child, Every Day.”

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2 Responses to Journey of a Superintendent: What a Summer Vacation!

  1. Lowell Brune says:

    I enjoyed the update-but from what I have seen from the Superintendent and the staff in the past, I’m not at all surprised by all the activity and progress over the summer. It’s what we’ve come to expect from such outstanding leadership.

  2. Cynthia,
    You are amazing and the piece in the KC Star this week speaks loudly for all the aspirations you are bringing to play in your schools and in the district as a whole. You will be in the top 10 school districts! Let us know if we can help. Sorry to hear you left Rotary but I fully understand when I read your blog. Gung Ho!

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