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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • DCMS selected to present at regional showcase

  • When a team from Dodge City Middle School travels to California next week, it’ll be not only to represent their building, but Dodge City Public Schools and the Dodge City community as a whole. The school is one of only two middle schools selected to present at the first ever Regional Breaking Ranks School Showcase. On...
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  • When a team from Dodge City Middle School travels to California next week, it’ll be not only to represent their building, but Dodge City Public Schools and the Dodge City community as a whole.  The school is one of only two middle schools selected to present at the first ever Regional Breaking Ranks School Showcase.  Only one other Kansas school was selected to participate.
    “[Being selected] is about our community having faith in our educational system.  They know that when they send their kid to school, they’re going to be getting a quality education at all of our schools,” DCMS Principal Michael King said.  “We are student centered and the community can see the value in the education our students are receiving.  We’ve raised the bar to that level so people know that if you go to Dodge City Public Schools, you are going to attend a quality school and the kids are going to be taken care of.”
    Sustaining that student-centered school culture is at the heart of the hour-long presentation the group is scheduled to deliver in San Diego.
     “It’s a positive culture where teachers truly believe in students and students are developing a belief in themselves,” King said.  “We are an advocacy for children and we reach every child –  not just a select group of children.  It’s every child. “
    The group honored with speaking for DCMS includes Sarah Schaeffer, Lisa Pelton, Faye Wells and Linda Holeman.
    “We are honored to be able to represent our group but this is certainly not just our story or our journey,” Pelton said. “We are taking the voice of our entire faculty and our students and sharing the great improvements we have made in our school - improvements we are very proud of.”
    Those changes include a complete shift in the culture of the school.
    “What we have done is taken a school that was all but broken and turned it into one that serves all the needs of every student who walks in the front door,” Schaeffer said.  “With Mr. King’s leadership and help, and the administration we have in this building, everybody is a stake holder in this school.  From the kids to the staff, we all have a voice now and that’s what [the focus of our presentation] is.”
    And it’s something representatives with the National Association of Secondary School Principals wanted DCMS to share with others.
    “This Regional Showcase provides a wonderful opportunity to learn from and interact with principals, teacher leaders, and students representing exemplary middle-level and high school practices” said JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP executive director.  “Schools are chosen to present on the basis of their outstanding reputations for quality and innovative practices with challenging populations.”
    Page 2 of 3 - According to Pelton, while the national recognition has been an added bonus, it was certainly not the purpose of the shift DCMS has experienced.
    “It’s been such a long journey from where we used to be to where we are now and everybody has worked very hard to improve the education, the culture and climate of the building,” she said.  “We did it for our students and we did it for our staff, to make it a better place.”
    And a better place it is.  Wells echoed that sentiment, saying ‘we love to come to work.’
    “If you build that culture as a foundation, you can’t even fathom what’s going to come next and that’s what we’re starting to experience is the success of our students,” she said.  “We believed we had to start with changing the culture of our building.”
    And that belief can now embolden other schools to emulate the success DCMS is enjoying.
    “The schools presenting at this first Regional Showcase are truly inspirational,” said Jason Midwood, CSSR director of quality assurance.  “As they share their stories of implementing the Breaking Ranks Framework, participants will become energized about the possibilities.  By engaging in deep conversation around specific student-centered challenges schools on the west coast are faced with, they will learn strategies that can be implemented in their own learning environments so that transformational change can take place.”
    The presentation is the product of almost five months’ worth of work on the part of the group representing DCMS and showcases videotaped segments from staff members.  It includes information about DCMS demographics, the community, the school and the district.
    “We talk about how we changed the school’s environment, what the turning points were, how we redefined leadership in our building and our next steps,” Wells said.  “We end with where we are heading.”
    And where is DCMS headed?
    “This is an ongoing process,” Schaeffer said.  “Are we finished?  No. We’re very pleased with where we are right now but we understand, at the same time, that every day we need to be better. “
    “It’d be real easy to settle but we’re not going to settle,” King added.  “It’s not an option.  There’s no excuse for not moving forward and for not getting better.”
    But next week, DCMS can take just a minute to bask in both the glow of all their hard work and the California sun.
    Page 3 of 3 - “Success feels good,” Wells said.  “It feels good for our staff; it feels good for our kids.  Success just feels good.”

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