SBR: 2018 KASB Conference aimed at sharing ideas, building connections

By Scott Rothschild, srothschild@kasb.org

Sharing ideas, touring schools and building connections are some of the many positive results school board members experience when they attend the annual KASB Conference.

“The keynote speakers are always re-energizing and very informative,” said Garden City USD 457 school board member Lara Blake Bors. “I love being able to take new ideas back to my district,” she said.

The 2018 KASB Conference runs from Fri. Nov. 30 to Sun. Dec. 2 in Overland Park. The conference, exclusively aimed at serving school board members from around the state, will feature more than 40 breakout sessions, a trade show, workshops, learning clusters and the popular `Meeting All Kids Needs’ visits to local schools. Delegates to the conference also vote on KASB policies and positions and elect leaders during a weekend full of activities, learning and networking.

KASB President Patrick Woods, who is a member of the Topeka USD 501 school board, said the conference gives him a sense of how the work of education advocates affects children.

“While there, we see first-hand evidence of the work going on with our students,” he said through demonstrations of hands-on STEM projects made possible with grants from Westar Energy. Woods said school board members also get to hear about best practices and experiences from board members across the state. “I just can’t get all of that from a webinar,” he said.

Lawrence USD 497 School Board Member and KASB President-Elect Shannon Kimball said she has taken several ideas from the conference back to her board and worked on implementing those initiatives.

“For instance, our board is working on finalizing a board operations manual, to help with setting expectations of each other for our work in supporting our students and our district. I attended a great session at the 2016 Annual Conference about how another Kansas district successfully created and implemented such a manual. The annual conference is filled with opportunities, both planned and informal, to network and learn from successful districts and dedicated board members across the state,” Kimball said.

KASB’s immediate past-president Dayna Miller, a member of the Basehor-Linwood USD 458 school board, said her favorite part of the convention is the Meeting All Kinds Needs tour of schools. “I thoroughly enjoy spending time in districts that are not my own, learning from other board members and seeing students excited to share their environment with us,” she said.

Lori Blake, of Southeast of Saline USD 306, said she has learned at past conferences about practices in school leadership. “The opportunity to tour schools and observe those practices being implemented, to network with colleagues across the state from both similar and diverse perspectives and to connect with vendors who may have services to improve educational systems at home are invaluable to my personal growth,” Blake said.

Attending the conference is a wonderful way to learn from others in the education field, said Gail Billman, a member of the Labette County USD 506 school board.

“We live in a world where the status quo is no longer acceptable for our public schools. Personally, I love the opportunities to seek out other school board members and share what is working and what is a work in progress. This is a great way to compare notes and bring back information to the local level,” she said.

This year will feature breakout sessions on school safety, the Kansas State Board of Education’s Kansans Can vision, advocacy and community engagement, foundations of boardsmanship, a one-day Winter Law Conference and much more.

Author and motivational speaker Garrison Wynn will deliver the opening keynote address on leadership strategies for educators. On Sunday morning, Dan Meers, better known as KC Wolf, the Kansas City Chiefs mascot, will share his inspirational story told in his book `Wolves Can’t Fly,’ about an accident that nearly ended his life. Other featured speakers include Education Commissioner Randy Watson and Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis.

At the new one-day Friday night trade show, attendees can visit vendors, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, beverages and door prize giveaways.

More than 500 school board members are expected to attend, so don’t miss the opportunity to visit with colleagues from across the state to discuss and review new ways to handle challenges and approach new opportunities to help students succeed.

Rick Schier, a member of the Olathe USD 233 school board said opportunities to learn are everywhere at the conference.
“Learning best practices of what works and even what does not work is invaluable. I have networked with so many other school board members across the state and made friendships that I can call on whenever I need information. Attending the KASB annual conference is well worth the time investment,” Schier said.

Deb Zila, a member of the Shawnee-Mission USD 512 school board, said, the most rewarding part of the conference is interacting with board members from all over the state. “Though we may come from very different communities, I have discovered that we have much more in common than we have in differences,” she said. “Sometimes it is a matter of the number of zero’s in our budgets and enrollments, but we all face the same issues, concerns and aspirations about what we want for our kids. The conference unites us in our purpose.”

Educating students is a never-ending challenge and the annual conference updates leaders on changes that affect schools. “How can you find out about so many different programs in such a short amount of time? Or catching up on what is happening across the state? Or how many laws have changed or about to be changed? You can find answers to these questions and you might find new questions to take back to your local board,” said Susan Walston, a board member at Haysville USD 261.

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