President’s Perspective: The path forward is to connect

As I write this blog on the eve of the 2020 general election, I am filled with anxiety about the response the election results will evoke from the public. This election has been more divisive than any election I have lived through. The pandemic has erected more silos and thickened the walls to overcome barriers already in place. People are isolated from one another and are yearning for connection. As local leaders elected without partisan lines, we cross the aisles to come together and make decisions for the children in our communities, our future leaders.  

In my 12 years of service as a school board member, I have never felt the weight of our decisions quite so heavily. No decision is right for everyone and there is no light emerging to reveal the end of the tunnel. The length of this race has not been determined and we must have the endurance to prevail. Connection to those running the same race is one way to lighten the load we are carrying.  

The Kansas Association of School Boards has steadily adapted to and provided alternative learning over the last eight months of pandemic survival and at the heart of each offering comes an opportunity to create connections. It is through the relationships we form with other educators that we begin to recognize we are not alone and that each of our experiences can benefit someone in a similar situation. In 286 school districts across Kansas, seven board members partner with their superintendents to make decisions for the children attending their schools. That is 2,102 (when considering Leavenworth’s 5-member board) community leaders we can learn from and we have a golden opportunity to do so at our first ever virtual annual convention in December.  KASB staff have been hard at work to plan activities and learning sessions to allow us the opportunity to connect. There will be the usual keynote and breakout sessions each day and there will be happy hours to network with members across each region. Creating relationships of support and innovation provide snapshots into systems of success for student achievement. Participation in KASB’s professional development provides the conduit for these relationships to grow. 

Just like our students, we have a chance to make the best of a situation and to learn from each other. I have learned, in service as in life, that you get out of an experience what you put into it.  I hope that you will join me December 2-4 to lay a path of connections across our great state instead of adding bricks to the silos that divide us. 

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