We must start planning for tomorrow today

Corey Lunn

If you have a moment I encourage you to visit YouTube and search for a short video by Karl Fisch entitled “Did You Know 3.0.” In this video a few interesting pieces of information are shared, such as:

  •             China will soon become the number one English-speaking country in the world.
  •            India has more honors students than America has students.
  •             The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2011 did not exist in 2004.
  •             Today’s students will have 10 to 14 jobs by the age of 38.
  •             If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest (behind China and India).
  •             The total number of text messages sent each day exceeds the total population of the planet.
  •             While it took the radio 38 years to reach a target audience of 50 million, it took television 13 years, the Internet four years and Facebook two years.
  •             Technical information is doubling every two years.

The rapid pace of social networking is staggering, as is the expansion of information available to us with the click of a mouse or the tap of an icon. In light of this rapid change we must ask ourselves what all of this means for our young people. It is pretty obvious the 21st century requires today’s students to develop a different set of skills than you and I needed when we were growing up.

Our young people live in a world of constant change and innovation, immediate access to information, and job markets flowing to people who offer the highest quality wherever they happen to live. Being both a parent and superintendent, ensuring our students are prepared concerns me greatly. I believe that our community needs to consider these futuristic trends and begin discussions on how this affects our schools both today and into the future. In response, a plan for integrating and teaching these 21st century skills needs to be developed.

Planning is not new for our school district — in fact we have an existing strategic plan in place that has guided our work for the past several years. But that plan, Vision 2014, is set to expire next year and a new plan needs to be developed to take its place. At the end of this week nearly 30 community members (half staff and half community representatives) will engage in discussions about the future of our schools. The team will work together to create a new strategic plan designed to ensure that we continue to be innovative and meet the learning needs of our students. This process will force us to look ahead, challenge the status quo, and provide planning for changes that will help our schools better meet the demands of the future.

This new strategic plan will include common beliefs, a new mission, objectives and strategic directions as well as specific action plans. After the Strategic Planning Team finishes its work this weekend, Action Planning Teams will begin constructing detailed action plans to help district staff meet objectives of the strategic plan. The action teams will be made up of staff and community members, and will be formed around the various strategies established by the Strategic Planning Team. More than 100 volunteers will be needed to serve on action teams to identify the specific tasks and timelines needed to meet the district’s goals. It is this community involvement, high accountability and clear focus that will ensure that this new strategic plan becomes entrenched in the work that we do.

This is an exciting time for our school district and I am looking forward to beginning this work with our community. I believe Stillwater Area Public Schools is on the verge of moving from very good to great. I invite you to become a part of this process. If you would like to become involved by serving on an action team please let me know.

Superintendent Corey Lunn can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phone at 651-351-8301. Questions can also be sent by mail to Superintendent, Stillwater Area Public Schools, 1875 South Greeley St., Stillwater, MN 55082. Register for Stillwater Area Public Schools E-News at www.stillwater.k12.mn.us/subscribe.