Letter from Superintendent
By Tom Alstrom
Our Mission is to “engage in continuous improvement to develop successful learners”. The State of Kansas has a new vision of Kansans Can, with a goal of Kansas leading the world in the success of each student. This is a lofty goal but if we do not strive to be the best, we will fall behind. This approach to education will push us to change in some areas and change is always difficult. As we change how and what we teach, we want to continually focus on the student and how we can ensure that they have the skills needed to enter a continually changing society and work force. The flexibility to change with that environment and the skills needed to continually adjust and learn what it takes to be successful.
We continue working hard on individual plans of study for middle and high school students. We want to give them the opportunity to explore jobs and careers in middle school and with that that information, make a plan for success to use in high school. We are doing this through group and individual sessions with a career counselor, school counselor and teacher, who will help them determine the courses best suited for them to achieve their career goals.
We remain flexible with students and their choices as we know that there will be changes throughout high school and that kids don’t always know what they want to be or do for the rest of their life. That is why these plans are fluid documents and can change each semester if a student wants to take a different avenue with their education. While we cannot avoid the required subjects, we can help kids make better choices with the elective credits throughout high school.
There is also a new accreditation model for Kansas. The KESA model focuses on the 5 R’s (Relationships, Relevance, Rigor, Responsive Culture and Results. This year as USD 440 enters into the first year of the process, we have chosen Relevance and Relationships as our initial focus. We know the importance of showing the relevance of what you are learning if you expect students to get excited about the subject. We also know that if you can build relationships with students you are more likely to see success. These are the first steps to building all 5 of the R’s into our focus on improvement and accreditation.
Education is changing, and the expectations are getting higher. The study done by the Commissioner of Education, found out that according to the parents and business and industries in the State of Kansas, schools need to look at more than just the academic side of learning. That is where the new College and Career Standards focus on 4 major strands, the academics preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills and employability skills to help our students be successful when they walk out our door, no matter what they choose to do. This also ties into the 5 R’s in the accreditation process.
We will continually look at ways to make or courses relevant to the job market, the community and rigorous enough to help our students be successful after they leave our schools.
This is the year we take another step forward in helping our students be successful as they enter the world of work or continued education.
Quick Look at USD #440
- 3A district with approximately 750 students
- District goal to keep class sizes small
- Strong vocational opportunities for students (CTE: 14 Pathways)
- District goal to focus on teacher/student technology
- Historically recognized as high achieving schools
- Board of Education sponsored teacher recognition program fro outstanding educators and staff
USD #440 is comprised of two small towns, Halstead and Bentley. Bentley is home to Bentley Primary School, servicing grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Halstead is home to Halstead Middle School, grades 4th through 8th, and Halstead High School, grades 9th through 12th.
Halstead is a city of approximately 2000 people located in south central Kansas. Wichita is located about 25 minutes away. Halstead has a golf course, swimming pool, downtown businesses, and beautiful parks. The town of Bentley located 8 miles south of Halstead in Sedgwick County. It is a small, rural community with about 400 residents. The commute to Wichita is about 15 minutes