The nip in the air and the rapidly changing colors of the leaves has been a welcomed sight. It is nice to see smoke from fireplaces and to smell the wood burning.

This also brings us to the time of year for our Annual Senior Citizen Appreciation Banquet. The time of year when as a school district we set aside time to honor those who play such an important role in our community, the ones who have gone before us and continue to help shape Neosho.

The banquet will be held November 18th beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the Neosho High School cafeteria. As I pondered what to share this week I determined it would be appropriate to continue on the topic of community.

For the school and community to come together, and work together for progress and change, there are certain things that have to be in place. The first thing that is absolutely needed is community understanding. Any attempt by the District to change major areas of education in the community will many times threaten beliefs, traditions, and assumptions.

As I have mentioned on more than one occasion, change is never easy. For lasting and meaningful change to take place, the community must have a basic understanding of why the change is necessary. People in the community must fully grasp what the change is, and what’s in it for them, whether they have children in school or not.

The education system that most community members know and are comfortable with is no longer adequate for preparing youth for success in this century. As a District we must continually work to increase community and staff understanding of where we are, where we need to go, and how to get there. Community understanding is the first prerequisite for progress.

The second area the District must work in is community trust. It is not enough for the community to understand and accept the need for change, they must also be able to trust that the District is doing all of the things that need to be done in order to prepare students for a successful transition into the post-high school world.

Schools are complex organisms with many movable parts that must all work together for success. The District must focus on winning trust in each area – whether it be money, curriculum, or customer service, just to name a few. The bottom line is for the relationship between the community and school to grow and prosper the way it needs to, the community must trust its educators to do their job.

Parents and community must know that the educators working with their children are not just experimenting with them, they must trust that educators are partnering with them for success. Fortunately, community understanding leads to community trust. The more understanding a District cultivates, the more the public will trust the vision, energy, and expertise needed to succeed.

Finally, to make needed and lasting change, Districts need community support. If one thing has rang true since the beginning of educational time, it is that schools cannot do it alone. Those who work in public education cannot fulfill society’s enormous collection of academic and social demands by themselves.

If the expectation of our schools is to develop the post-industrial basics in every child — literacy, numeracy, thinking and teamwork skills, self discipline, knowledge of the world, knowledge of self, technology integration, and the capacity for lifelong learning — then the people of the community must act as partners.

Securing community support is one of the most important prerequisites for progress. This movement ensures that our friends, family, and neighbors begin to act as owners of their school. This helps a community ensure that their schools represent their community and its values.

Neosho School District is committed to working with the Neosho community to make our schools the best they can possibly be.

We looked forward to the continued partnership we have as we forge ahead to provide the best education possible for all of our students.

By Dan Decker

(Dan Decker is superintendent of the Neosho R-5 School District. He can be reached at 451-8600 or deckerdan@neoshor5.org.)

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