A strategic plan isn’t a piece of paper.
Forward thinking is important—for your students, your teachers, your administrators, and especially for your technology and facilities. We are not working to prepare students for today—we’re preparing them for tomorrow. One of the most important things we do at Andover Public Schools is to develop a strategic plan. This document is developed with Board of Education members and administrators, and then shared with staff, parents and community members at a series of meetings. Our Strategic Plan isn’t a piece of paper we place on a shelf or a document we keep filed on our computer. It is a living document, one we review every couple weeks, to make sure we are doing the work it takes to get where we want to be. You have to know what direction you’re headed, and where you resources are being used, to make sure you reach your goal.
Focus on classroom engagement.
Our students are natives to technology, and as we prepare them for the future, we need to meet them where they are. Using tools they already use in their daily lives, we can engage them in new ways of learning. Many fear the use of personal electronic devices, social media sites and even flipped classrooms. However, by using these features safely and appropriately, the learning process is enhanced and even more engaging for our tech-savvy students.
Consider cost efficiencies.
Cost efficiency is far more than just turning off the lights when you leave a room—it comes in many forms. Through the use of technology, we have created cost efficiencies that have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our V Block, for instance, not only saved us money through lower cooling and energy costs, but literally saved hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have been spent on a new facility for our growing server room. Through performance contracting we have been able to improve our district and save thousands of dollars through additional energy efficient solutions.
You just can't say enough.
It's said often for a reason: Communication is key. Communicating to people in a way that best suits them is the new key. This means your communication often takes multiple and varied forms—old standbys like school newsletters, the website and even area media outlets remain. What must be added to these is a variety of social media sites—Twitter and Facebook, for example, and even community forums where people can not only ask questions but feel their concerns are heard. You may feel like you're communicating too much—but you must remember that each form of communication you use only reaches part of your target audience. Keep talking and listening, and your message will be heard.
It's all about kids.
It seems simple, but it's true. Every time you're overwhelmed by the paperwork, the state and federal mandates, the test scores, the phone calls, and everything else that you deal with outside of the classroom, remember the kids. It's about them, and creating the best learning environment you can for them. So when frustrations hit you, when you're having a bad day, head to a classroom. It's all about the kids.
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
Mark A. Evans has served as the Andover Public Schools Superintendent of Schools since July 2005. Highlights of his tenure include passing a $39.68 million bond issue by a nearly 3 to 1 margin and continued increases in student achievement as measured by state assessments and other tests.
Andover Public Schools’ 2011 ACT scores are the highest in district history, and are once again higher than state and national averages. Evans has also increased focus on classroom support, technology tools, and integration support for the classrooms, resulting in first place in the Digital School Districts Survey (medium category) in 2008. He was also recently named one of the nation's top ten tech-savvy superintendents by "eSchool News."
Evans's leadership in education is guided by five core beliefs:
- Students come first
- Parents are partners in education
- Success is in the classroom
- Leadership and accountability ensure success
- Collaboration with all stakeholders is key
A native Kansan, Evans has more than 30 years of educational experience. He and his wife, Stacey, have two children, Chelsea and Mitchell. Mr. Evans serves on numerous boards and committees in the community, including the boards of the United Way and the Andover YMCA. He serves as Vice Chair of the Kansas Association of School Boards Finance Committee and Chair of the Kansas State Department of Education Virtual Education Advisory Council and is an active member of the Andover Chamber of Commerce.