KCK convocation goes online this year

The Kansas City, Kansas, school district’s convocation Monday morning was a big change for teachers and staff this year – an online format.

The school district is having remote learning for the first nine weeks, and the convocation was no exception.

The convocation video had special guest appearances by the Kansas City Chiefs, area television broadcasters, radio announcers, Kansas City Royals, Gov. Laura Kelly and many others.

Dr. Alicia Miguel, the KCK interim superintendent, who was named to her position only last week, addressed the convocation, saying she would embrace this interim role as they continue to work together. She has over 30 years of experience in education and has been in the district since 2012.

No matter what the challenge may be, Dr. Miguel said one thing remains certain, that whether in person or remotely, the educators’ presence and leadership are essential to moving this district forward, making sure all students receive the quality education they deserve.

The results of teachers’ hard work helped students make gains in academics, graduation rates and scholarships offered this past year, she said.

Students need the educators’ encouragement, need to know they believe they are capable and valuable, and need to know teachers have high expectations of them, she said.

“The more students push themselves to accomplish their goals, the more they realize what they are capable of achieving in the classroom and in life,” Dr. Miguel said.

Gov. Laura Kelly said, in the convocation video, that she supported the teachers, administrators and staff members are working to make sure the school year is as safe and productive as possible.

“This year, we face unprecedented challenges,” she said. Early in the pandemic, Kansas took the unprecedented step of being the first state in the nation to close schools. It was tough on parents, teachers, employers and students.

“But every action I’ve taken throughout this pandemic has been to keep Kansans healthy, keep our economy healthy and get kids back in school as soon and as safely as possible,” she said.

A group of educators came together to develop continuous learning plans and lay out a framework for districts to implement a robust curriculum through a combination of online education, small group settings and take-home work, she said.

Local districts then implemented the strategies that worked best for their districts and classrooms, she said.

The governor issued an executive order requiring masks, temperature screenings, hygiene stations and social distancing to keep students and faculty safe. She said she appreciates the district’s decision to delay starting school until after Labor Day.

“And I commend you for starting school online for the first nine weeks,” Gov. Kelly said in the convocation video.

“This year won’t be easy. We don’t know what challenges we may face in the weeks and months ahead, but regardless, I know that you will do whatever it takes to provide the best possible education for your students,” she said. “As governor, I’m committed to protecting our students, teachers and staff from COVID-19 and making sure they all have the tools they need to succeed. Know as we begin the year, I am with you every step of the way. I will continue to do what’s right to protect Kansans and Kansas communities. I wish all of you the best in the coming school year. We will get through this together.”

Dayton Moore, general manager of the Kansas City Royals, made a statement during the convocation video.

After a shutdown period with the Royals, he said they’ve learned they need to rush to the front, be open-minded to do whatever they need to do so they can move forward as a team, organization, community and a school district.

“The one thing we all have in common is we have a great heart for the next generation,” Moore said. “There’s no population on earth that has a greater heart for the next generation than teachers and administrators nad people who have dedicated their lives to the future of young people.”

“We constantly remind people that our students are not data points, nor are they props, said Dominick DeRosa, president of NEA-KCK. He also talked about the power of being strong together.

Randy Lopez, KCK school board president, welcomed teachers.

“I know there has been a lot of conversation over the past five months on how the health pandemic has impacted public education,” he said. Education has been one of the areas that was hardest hit, he added.

“Some of the uncertainty and confusion centered around the virus has created a lot of anxiety about what public education will look like this coming school year,” Lopez said. “Some will say we are facing the most challenging times in our district’s history, but I know the heart of this district. I know the heart of this community. We are resilient, we are hopeful and we are committed. I believe wie will do what is necessary because we must, and work to achieve what some may think is impossible for us in order to keep moving forward as a top 10 school district in this country.”

“This school year will be one to remember, and it will be special. It will be challenging, yes, but it will be fun,” Lopez said. “I am confident that we can reduce the impact of any setback by planning and identifying any obstacles before they occur.”

That is why a task force was established, he said. The board has considered the community’s concerns, he said. The administration presented several options to reopen this year, and the board decided to begin the first nine weeks remotely.

“Our choice was made in the best interests of our students and our staff, which will always remain a top priority,” Lopez said. He also thanked Dr. Charles Foust, superintendent, who is leaving for a position in another school district, for his leadership during these difficult times.

The convocation may be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9HHMytPSyA.