On the educational side, I had the opportunity to be a Kansas Fellow. I was one of nine teachers who were trained by the Kansas Department of Education and Kansas Commissioner, Dr. Randy Watson, on the new Kansas Board of Education outcomes that will go into effect the 2016-17 school year. Although I knew this would be a meaningful experience, I never realized how much it would impact me both professionally and personally.
As we traveled the state of Kansas, we visited areas I never knew existed, small rural communities, while other times visiting places in the Kansas City and Wichita area. No matter where my team visited, we saw passionate educators who cared deeply about their students. We heard of amazing things communities were doing to ensure all students received a quality education. We saw school district officials thinking outside the box, seeking solutions to problems brought on my budget issues. We heard of weekly eligibility checks for all students to make sure they were succeeding, redesigning high school classrooms, creating opportunities for elementary students to explore careers at an early age and participate in STEM, educators finding creating ways to make sure their special needs students left them with essential life skills, a school district who created a job for a student to earn money in exchange for the student staying in school instead of dropping out. The list of amazing things occurring in Kansas Schools could go on and on. The goal was to help the school districts learn about the outcomes, but I have definitely learned more and have no doubt Kansas is the best to receive an education because of all the astonishing students, educators and families that put in so much time to reach for success each and every day.