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By Pat Pratt
An effort by the district to gauge the pulse of the community on the direction of Triad schools, members of the public on Monday filled the Triad High School Media Center for Community Engagement 2023.
The meeting put people from a wide-swath of the community at tables to discuss topics relevant to local education. Their responses in the days ahead will be compiled and district officials will use them as a guide when making decisions about the future of Triad schools.
School Board president Jeff Hewitt described the packed media center as a success and a reflection of how important education is to the community.
“I’m very thankful that we were able to get such an outstanding turnout tonight,” Hewitt said. “We are looking forward to getting all the comments back and finding out exactly what people think we should have as priorities. Then comes the fun part where we try to make those priorities reality with the limited funds we have.”
Those at the meeting were asked to come through a loose invitation process. Henderson said the invites were focused on community members that board members and staff knew to be invested in the district, such as leaders of parent groups. Board members, administrators and teachers attended the event as well.
“We asked them to look at the members of their PTOs, their parent groups, and to ask those people if they would be interested in coming in,” Henderson said. “We also mentioned it at all of our board meetings. So we had a few people say, ‘Yeah, I want to come,’ and it grew from there.”
“It was open to anyone who wanted to come, but we couldn’t have 200 people at an event like this, so that’s how we did it, by drawing on the people we know are community leaders.”
The engagement session kicked off with a state of the district presentation by Henderson and Dr. Rodney Winslow, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Both touched on curriculum, social and emotional support for students, school safety, district financial management and academic performance.
The presentation was to give those in attendance some facts and background on the district. Following the presentation, attendees split into groups at tables and were given questions on broad areas of education.
“We actually have eight focus groups, so it’s everything from academics to retaining staff, to school safety, communication, even things like extracurricular, which are important to people as well,” Henderson said. “So we decided on topics where we need the expertise of our community to give us the best explanation possible.”
Groups were given 25 minutes to form responses before changing tables and forming new groups to address the other topics. The responses, once compiled as Hewitt said, will serve as a guide to district decisions in the days and months ahead.
“That is the goal, just to guide some of our decisions moving forward,” Henderson said. “And how we improve our district and our individual schools.”
Henderson said the district held similar meetings between 2014 and 2016. Officials then and now felt there was only so much that could be gleaned from surveys and in-person was a better setting for fostering dialogue.
“To actually sit down with community members is the best way to do that, we feel,” Henderson said. “And we really appreciated people giving up their time to come do it, that’s why we don’t ask very often, about once a year.”