Take the Stairs

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

Recently I was clicking through the local news channels, and happened upon the end of a report featuring an event where a large number of determined individuals walked or ran more than 800 steps to reach the top of one of the tallest structures in the city. I don’t recall the cause, or even the building that served as the setting for the event. But recently, I have been wondering what would motivate a person to want to walk or run up hundreds of stairs? Why do some individuals choose to take the stairs, while others look for the closest elevator or escalator, obviously a much quicker and easier way to the top? Can we really achieve what we want to achieve when we choose the escalator over taking the stairs?
The stairs have become a symbolic reminder to me of the effort it takes to reach our goals and dreams. The most meaningful goals we have in life require significant effort. Said another way, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Educating our children well requires significant effort. If we really want to re-design schools to meet the demands of today’s world, we  must commit to a taking-the-stairs type effort. There is no easy way to realize meaningful and lasting change. Our collective effort, taking one step at a time toward our common goal, is the only way to succeed.

Educators and staff in my district are demonstrating the “take the stairs” effort. We have been on a journey to re-design teaching and learning to ensure our students are prepared for their futures in today’s rapidly changing world. We define “prepared” as graduating with a high school diploma “plus” endorsements aligned to their college and career aspirations, or what we have named Diploma+.

Fortunately, our community and business leaders are taking the stairs with us, and have embraced the promise of Diploma+. This fall, we received 79% approval of a $235 million bond referendum. The referendum was a strong endorsement of education in KCKPS. That bond is now providing the financial resources needed to renovate, remodel, redesign, and rebuild our schools.

Re-designing schools isn’t easy. I am proud of the effort of the KCKPS team. I am grateful for the support of our parents, community and business leaders. I am thankful to work alongside educators fully committed to the future of our students. It is vitally important that we continue to support each other to “take the stairs” in order to achieve results that matter for our students. “It’s Up to Us!”

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