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Panel Addresses What’s Needed to Build Graduates With Ready Skills

TL - Districts Profile Kay Spence

Conference attendees filled a session at the AASA national conference on Thursday to learn how to prepare their school district to build an effective 21st century education system.

At the Profile of a Graduate program, Ken Kay, CEO of EdLeader21, a national network of school district leaders, explained the importance of transforming education policies in every school community. According to Edleader21, 21 percent of school systems across the U.S. by 2021 will be working with their communities to develop a portrait of a graduate.

Kay was joined by three panelists — Aaron Spence, superintendent of  the Virginia Beach City Public Schools in Virginia;  Karen Cheser, superintendent of the Fort Thomas Independent Schools in Kentucky; and Karen Garza, president and CEO of Battelle for Kids, an organization that promotes change in classrooms.

They shared their experience and advice on how to inspire and help create a Profile for Graduate for other districts. Participants learned about tools to help them create specific characteristics in the makeup of the student profile.

According to the panel, some important characteristics every high school graduate should have are being a creative and critical thinker and a good communicator.

Cheser said the Boone County Public Schools came up with 10 C’s to identify what was important to their community. Compassion was the No. 1 priority.

“If we make sure our students have that experience and that compassion is built, we wouldn’t have all these issues that we keep talking about and experiencing,” said Cheser.

Portrait of a Graduate is intended to develop new skill sets for students and prepare them for the future.

Spence offered advice from a superintendent perspective. “Engage your board in this dialogue if you have not,” he said. “Your board needs to be with you. Start with your board, then with your community.”

Garza described this as a slow process, but something that could be beneficial to any school district.

(Victoria Leuang, a senior journalism major at Middle Tennessee State University, is an intern with Conference Daily Online.).

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