Office of the Superintendent
Dear Scottsbluff Parents, Students and Community Members,
I have had the honor of holding leadership positions in a variety of school districts in several states - suburban and rural, rich and poor, large and small. I clearly recall many very special school communities accomplish some amazing things for their children. Yet, despite all those great memories, I have never experienced anything like what I see happening in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. What’s happening here is the stuff of legends and will be talked about around this region and beyond for decades to come.
Here are some examples, as I begin my seventh year here as Superintendent of Schools, of how I see what’s happening here as nothing short of truly miraculous:
- Graduation rates are rising beyond any goals we could have set – Just four years ago we talked of SBPS’ last place standing among all Nebraska class B school districts with a 78% graduation rate. Today we await final confirmation of our own data that indicates that this past graduating class will be up around 90%! That’s real kids who stayed in school and earned real diplomas. Life changing numbers!
- This community passed a bond issue for an ambitious new high school facility construction and renovation the first time, by a near 20% margin – Combined with other resources the school district had committed, this will mean a $35M+ project that will set a new high bar for high school education in this area, region, state and far beyond.
- This new high school facility is so much more than a building - This facility will incorporate the very best state-of-the-art technology and equipment with future focused career preparation to help our youth set on their way to become engineers, doctors and nurses, teachers, skilled technicians, graphic artists, contractors, entertainers, designers, business people and much, much more. “Wall to Wall” Career Academies will provide every student new experiences that will help them develop exciting goals and dreams for their future.
- State and nationally honored students and staff – I could never have imagined that a school district of our relatively small size would include such an array of staff and student honors. Here’s just a small sampling…
- Nebraska’s Teacher of the Year (2015);
- Nebraska’s Middle Level Outstanding Educator (2015);
- A nationally distinguished elementary school (2015);
- A recent graduate who is studying software engineering at MIT;
- A student athlete who excels as a distance runner at the Universities of Florida State and Arkansas;
- A 2011 SHS graduate who was honored as a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Rochester, who is now attaining her doctorate in astrophysics at the University of Maryland;
- An 11-year old who is taking classes at Stanford University;
- Nebraska’s winning Math Bowl Team and the largest Math Club in the State;
- 58 Bluffs Middle School musicians honored as the only middle school band in the State to perform at the State Bandmasters Convention;
- And even, a 2011 SHS graduate who went on to become Miss America!
- The hot streak of SHS State Championships and “near-championships” in athletics is astounding. Here are some recent examples
- An emerging community partnership, “Every Child, Every Day, Everywhere (3E),” that is engaging an entire city around its children.
As the above examples show, this is a fantastic community accomplishing incredible things. Scottsbluff offers youth the opportunities to grow and to excel that exist in very, very few places anywhere.
In fact, last winter when I spoke about Scottsbluff Public Schools to the newly arriving national accreditation team who reviewed the district this past year to determine our status, I told them that I thought this school district might well be becoming one of the very best in this entire country. They all politely smiled at me. However, during their exit presentation several days later, the group’s leader spoke to the roomful of guests and proclaimed (closely but not exactly quoted), “At first I thought this was just a good superintendent saying what he was supposed to say. But now that we’ve spent several days in the schools and out in this community, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. He might just be right!”
And so, congratulations to this staff and to this community and to this student body! This is a tremendous school district that is getting better all the time. I can hardly wait to see what lies ahead because I know it will be very, very special. And, I couldn’t feel more proud and honored to be a part of it all as your superintendent.