West Grand candidate question – week 2

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Five candidates submitted their petitions to run for the November election. Of the three seats, one held by Michele DeSanti was term-limited. Travis Hoesli was up for reelection but also gave up his seat early to move to North Carolina. The third seat is held by Jeremy Bock, and he is seeking re-election. Others throwing their name into the hat are Bryan Klotz, Jess Buller, Rebecca Guthrie, and Rhonda Shearer.

Those elected will join current board members Everett “Shorty” Lemon, Jessica Smiley, Michael “Mitch” Lockhart and Shawn Lechman.

November’s election will be a mail-in ballot, and according to Grand County Clerk and Recorder, Sara Rosene ballots will be sent out October 11.

The Grand Gazette will be featuring each of the candidates in a weekly forum where a question is answered by each candidate. The public is encouraged to send questions to [email protected] gmail.com. (The above information was updated from last week to include Shawn Lechman and clarify that Travis Hoesli was not term-limited.)

What skills should a West Grand graduate possess?

What programming and teacher direction is necessary to develop these skills?

How do you measure if students possess(ed) these life skills and/or skills to enter the workforce or pursue college?

Rebecca Guthrie

Rebecca Guthrie

West Grand graduates need to possess currently applicable skill sets, for both traditional professional careers, as well as trades and skilled labor. There is a diverse workforce and our graduates need to at the very least be aware of their options. Many graduates these days are not focused on a 4-year college degree and they deserve to know what trade schools, vocational programs, etc., might be available to them during and after graduation. At the core of all skill sets are the fundamentals, communication, technology, math, etc. are all core essentials to succeeding at any profession.

The students must also be made aware of grants, scholarships, student loans, etc., all of which could impact their decision. These need to be discussed early so that students that may not be considering an additional level of education, understand it could be made possible!

Vocational and gifted and talented programs should be further developed. This should include a diverse staff, allowing WG to offer additional classes or opportunities for students. I would not be against partnerships with neighboring schools to offer a larger selection or expanding of the job fair days (or tag along days) for our students. Equally important is the high school counselor that assists the students in preparing for graduation. WG School Board reviews and modifies the graduation criteria as needed and all the counselors in the school district are imperative in communicating these expectations to the students.

Given our smaller size, regardless of the student’s goals, the teachers, staff, and counselors should have a great understanding of a student’s ability with the required core skill sets. We also need to understand not all students learn or progress in the same fashion, so goals can be diverse.

Great question, if you would like to discuss further, feel free to reach out to me!

Jeremy Bock

Jeremy Bock

What skills should a West Grand graduate possess?

Graduates should have the skills to be a productive member of society with enough grit and determination to reach for the stars.

What programming and teacher direction is necessary to develop these skills?

We have worked hard trying to get the right leaders in the right positions to achieve success. With these leaders in their current positions, there isn’t much room for programming. As a board, we hire the superintendent to give direction to the schools. We are not involved in the day to day operation of the school. We have to be careful not to micromanage.

How do you measure if students possess(ed) these life skills and/or skills to enter the workforce or pursue college?

We have to look at each and every student differently because they are different. Some are college-bound or trade school-bound and some are ready for the workforce now. I hope they all possess the attitude that failure is not an option and just a first attempt at life.

Bryan Klotz

While there are many skills one must obtain to be successful in our world today, 4 specific skills spring to mind. Those skills include independence, work ethic, resiliency, and personal courage. These are the essential skills that can impact our kids in the most crucial ways. Preparing our youth for the world that awaits them is a daunting task, to say the least. We as a community need to load them up with the skills that they can use to smoothly transition into adulthood. Their successes will follow.

Our Districts staff are some of the best! And with our kids enjoying rural class sizes, it really gives our educators the opportunity to explore individual students on a more personal level. That is an opportunity I hope each one of them takes on a daily basis. Understanding our children’s differences, their strengths, and weaknesses will ultimately ensure the child a more successful progression through life.

While I’m sure there are standardized testing methods that gauge our children’s personal and interpersonal skills, there is no greater way to measure the skills they possess than by their own actions.

It is the responsibility of our parents, our teachers, and our community to watch vigilantly, to give praise when deserved, and to coach our kids into tomorrow.

Jess Buller

Jess Buller

What skills should a West Grand graduate possess?

“What we’re really doing is preparing students for jobs that don’t exist to use technologies, sciences, and methods that we haven’t even discovered yet to solve problems that we haven’t identified yet.”

Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for that statement (it comes from Google’s Chief Education Evangelist, Jaime Casap) but it relays perfectly the focus we need to maintain when preparing the ideal graduate. The future that awaits our students is like nothing we could ever anticipate; therefore, we need to focus on the skillsets that will allow them to succeed in this ever-changing world. Good or bad, automation and artificial intelligence will take over many of the jobs currently occupied by a human labor force. This means that the skills we need to focus on developing with our West Grand graduates are:

Creativity & Critical Thinking – How might we teach students to tackle industry and societal issues in ways machines are incapable, yet that will produce positive results?

Teamwork and Communication –These are critical. The complexity of issues faced tomorrow by West Grand graduates of today will demand a range of perspectives and abilities at the table. Teamwork and good communication are not inherent skills with most and should be an area of focus.

Grit and Resiliency – Throughout the course of history, the most successful men and women failed…some miserably and some multiple times. What defined them, however, were not their failures.

What defined them was how they were able to bounce back up, keep their eyes on their goals and dreams, and work hard until they achieved success.

What programming and teacher direction is necessary to develop these skills?

In education, there is nothing more valuable than a quality teacher direction. And it has been my firsthand experience that we have a number of top-notch teachers in our district. For teachers to properly guide our students, however, they must not only be experts in their content area(s). They must take a critical examination of the world of work and remain in constant search for how they might incorporate these critical skills into their lessons and units. Creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, and communication can be applied across all subject areas. Just like all subject areas can be interwoven with each other. All too often we silo—or compartmentalize—education. In doing so, we rob students of developing true life skills.

How do you measure if students possess(ed) these life skills and/or skills to enter the workforce or pursue college?

Certainly not by using a single data point such as a test score. There is value in testing, but it can only give a small glimpse of the bigger picture. The best type of measure for whether students possess these skills comes in the form of the student demonstration, whether it be through the presentation of a portfolio or a live pitch to local civic and business leaders. Can the student properly demonstrate that he or she has transferred these skills into a practical and authentic application? As a district, we should strive to help our students achieve industry credentials, diploma endorsements and quality capstone projects before they leave our doors. The truth of the matter is that students are entering college and the workforce unprepared. High Stakes Accountability and increasing the time we spend testing kids is not the answer. It’s time to change the game.

Rhonda Shearer

Rhonda Shearer

High School students should be confident, resilient, responsible, and have character. I also think going back to teaching some basic life skills should be offered as well.

These skills, in my opinion, are very hard to measure. One aspect could be more “work-study” type classes that would allow more interaction with people. I believe it could build on the traits I believe they should possess. With putting students out in the community more, I believe you could better gauge the success of the program.

The new state graduation standards require a minimum score on the SAT test, but I also know some extremely intelligent people can be terrible at test-taking and not show their true potential. I don’t believe that test-taking is the answer to everything!

**Candidates appear in order of how they will appear on the ballot **

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