For USD 353 superintendent Adam Hatfield, a big part of his job is going forward with the vision for student learning set by the Board of Education a few years ago, while also listening to different voices that don’t always agree with each other.
“I try as hard as I can to get everybody's opinions before I make a decision,” Hatfield said. “My perspective is only one perspective and I can't get a true feeling on things unless I talk to a lot of different people.”
Essentially, the vision for the district is “future focused real world learning,” Hatfield said. The Kansas State Department of Education has put redesign requirements on school districts, which will have to be met by 2026 for the schools to receive accreditation. USD 353 was one of seven districts that started early on finding a new learning platform
“We looked at quite a few different platforms and Summit was the best platform that we found at the time to support personalized learning,” Hatfield said in an interview last September. “If in the future there is a platform that we feel fits our kids better then we’ll obviously look at different things.”
Hatfield is open to finding a new platform if the board goes in that direction.
“It’s much more about personalized learning than it is summit,” he said. “What we’re trying to adopt is the concept of the students having a more personalized learning experience that is part of the Kansas redesign, that is part of KSDE’s reform essentially across Kansas.”
The three new members elected to the board last November would like to do away with Summit. During a recent board work session, the BOE talked about forming a committee to look at alternatives to Summit. The committee has not been formed yet.
It will be a challenge, finding a new platform that will meet the state and district’s vision of preparing students for the future - a platform board members can agree on.
Hatfield stressed the importance of preparing students for the world beyond their K-12 school careers.
“The world is changing we have to change with it,” he said. “That is the world our students are going to be venturing out into. It'll be a different world five years from now so how and it's changing so fast especially these days with technology. We have to find creative ways to try to keep up with a changing world.”
Hatfield said he is open to any policy or educational changes that go through the board as it works to carry out the district vision.
“They are elected by the public to be there and there's a reason for that and they are representing the community,” he said.
He doesn’t second guess parents who opt their children out of the Summit program or enroll them in a different district because they don’t like the program.
“It's very important for a parent to feel good about their child's education,” Hatfield said. “I would never blame any parent for choosing whatever educational needs is best for their student.”