(St.Joseph,MO) Saturday the St.Joseph School Board welcomed soon-to-be superintendent Doug Van Zyl to the Troester Media Center to help map out a plan for the next school year during the board's annual retreat.
School Board President Seth Wright said the board's first meeting with the incoming superintendent brought a slew of positive ideas to the brainstorming session.
"For the first time, this board we are actually getting to do work. It's time for us to get to work, we've got a lot of work to do and it's exciting to see some fresh ideas and the passion that Dr.Van Zyl has," Wright said.
Van Zyl met with members of the school board to address the issues of the districts past and create a plan for the districts future.
"We talked about some things in the past, but now is a great opportunity to let those things go and really get focused onto the positive things we want to do," Van Zyl said. “The board really talked a lot of reestablishing trust and credibility with the community and with staff. Then we really want to focus on students and student achievement and making sure our students are receiving the very best education possible.”
The board took time evaluate their goals for the next school year and focused on creating a new student-centered strategy for the district.
"The number one concern should always be 'Are we doing what's right for kids?'" Van Zyl said. “We really want to get the focus back to the classrooms and all the positive things that are going on there and make sure that I as the superintendent, and the school board are doing what we need to do to give them the resources and the focus gets back to where it needs to be.”
Wright said the board will start focusing on constructive ways to communicate with parents and members of the community.
“We’ve got to communicate our message; that was not something that has been done very well in the past and that’s something we need to improve on. I think that’s what we were discussing it today. What can we as a board do to help the district and the administration communicate that message better,” Wright said.
Van Zyl said the school district will focus on providing students with better educational opportunities by bringing in more experienced teachers.
"Our hook is going to be to provide the very best opportunities for all of our staff that want to come here. That means top notch education, top notch professional development; a board and a superintendent that work to support them and a community that really truly supports education,” Van Zyl said.
Van Zyl will officially start his new job as superintendent on July 1. The next school board meeting is tentatively slated for Thursday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m.
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