The doors to a new school year have opened. In Kansas City, Kansas, we have such a rich history. A history that began in 1844 when the first public school was built right here in my community, serving white and native American students, 17 years before Kansas was a state. The territory grew, and neighborhoods flourished, and today we are one of the two most diverse counties in the nation. There are only two counties in the nation, Wyandotte County, Kansas and Broward County, Florida, where no population, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian or any other race or ethnicity has a majority, and where Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics all have more than 25% of the population.
Diversity has always been our strength. We are a tapestry of cultures, and today our students come from all over the world, speaking nearly 70 different languages, all in pursuit of an excellent education. Providing quality education for our children in this “international” community is a wonderful experience.
I am excited about our next chapter. We write our chapter in strong partnership with our families, students, and community. Ours is an improbable story; a story of connectedness; a story of promise and possibilities.
The improbability that an urban school district could graduate 53% of our students with their diploma, plus the endorsements of our Diploma+ program (www.kckps.org/diplomaplus.) The connectedness that can be seen in the number of staff who grew up in this community, and graduated from our schools. The promise and the possibilities that we spark in our kids, like the student who came from a refugee camp, and in five years became a Gates Millennium Scholar; and the student who connected with her science teacher and became a physician; and the student who makes it her responsibility to ensure her peers feel welcome and safe.
I could provide thousands of examples of the amazing accomplishment and spirit that define our students. They are truly incredible, and I dare say inspirational. As we begin this new school year, Kansas City, Kansas is committed to ensuring that each student will be taught by great teachers, led by caring administrators, and surrounded by supportive staff. Working alongside our families and community, from this wonderfully diverse community, it is sure to be a productive and memorable school year. It’s Up to Us!