Nine years ago in October, the Worthington Board of Education named me Superintendent of Worthington Schools.  One of my first challenges was instituting a new governance structure for our central office and reinstituting the position of Director of Secondary Education.  The role would supervise our middle school and high school programs and be responsible for most everything at those grade levels including co-curricular activities, discipline, class sectioning and thus staffing levels, etc…It was a big role and one where we needed a special person.

Enter Dr. Neil Gupta.

Neil came to Worthington with administrative experience in Ashland City Schools and in New Albany Schools.  He was well known throughout the State of Ohio for his positive social media presence and his work with education organizations such as the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  I knew of Neil but didn’t really know Neil, nor did Neil know me.  We met at a Panera in Westerville for a cup of coffee to discuss the position.  Neil took a leap of faith and joined our team in Worthington.  I’m thankful every day that he chose to do so.

Neil has been our Director of Secondary Education for the past eight years.  He’s known sometimes as the selfie guy.  He’s never met a person that he doesn’t know or who isn’t about to become a friend.  And, while those things that people see on the outside are all true, they don’t tell the real story of Neil.

Neil works.  He works early in the morning.  He works late at night.  I never once had to worry whether something in Neil’s area would be taken care of.  He never drops the ball.  He’s also relentlessly positive.  Neil was tasked for eight years with doing some of the most difficult work in our organization.  He held expulsion hearings, suspension appeals, and did harassment investigations.  No one gets into education to do these things.  Neil never complained.  He never asked for the tasks to be moved to someone else.  Neil came to work every day with a smile and said to me…”Anything I can do to make your job easier?”  Everyday!

When I talk to my adult children about how to be successful in life, I often share with them what I witness in Neil’s daily actions.  Not the out front stuff with pictures, blogs, etc…the behind the scenes, daily work ethic, daily positive attitude, and daily desire to do more than what is expected.  

As we conclude this school year, Neil is moving to Dayton to become the Superintendent of Oakwood City Schools.  Oakwood is lucky to have Neil and Kari joining their community.  As my grandfather would often say…”they’re just good people.”  And yet, they are so much more.

On a personal level, I’ll miss working with Neil every day.  I’m better for having learned from him.  At an organizational level, Neil made Worthington better too.  Thus, on behalf of Worthington Schools, I’d like to publicly thank Neil for his investment in our community.  #ItsWorthIt

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent


It was a GREAT Year in Worthington Schools!

Sunday was graduation day for the class of 2023.  What a great day of celebration!  As the school year comes to a close this week, I find myself reflecting on the amazing achievements of our district. We’ve made significant progress and have much to be proud of. I’d like to share with you four big milestones that have shaped our district’s success.

  1. Passage of the Operating Levy, Bond Issue, and Permanent Improvement Levy- This support ensures that our schools will continue to provide a high-quality education for our students while maintaining essential programs and services. The passage of these levies allows us to invest in our facilities, infrastructure, and technology, making certain that our students have access to modern, safe, and efficient learning environments. The bond issue will help fund necessary renovations to our high schools, ensuring our schools remain competitive and prepared for future growth.
  2. New Agreements with WEA and WESP – I’m pleased to announce that we have reached new agreements with both the Worthington Education Association (WEA) and the Worthington Educational Support Professionals (WESP). Through thoughtful negotiations and a shared commitment to the success of our students, we have developed contracts that recognize the hard work and dedication of our staff. These agreements strengthen our partnership with WEA and WESP and allow us to attract and retain the best educators and support staff for our students. I am confident that this collaboration will continue to have a positive impact on the educational experience of our children.
  3. Successful New Start and End Times for All Schools – This year, we implemented new start and end times for all schools. Based on extensive research and community input, these new schedules have been a success. Thank you for your support and understanding during this important shift.
  4. Academic Success – High school finals were reinstated, and with the help of staff,  it’s now a “Celebration of Learning,” creating more meaningful, growth-oriented assessments. The district is embracing the Science of Reading, where teachers are learning new, researched-based strategies for reading intervention. The district is collaborating with local businesses and academia to enhance the student learning experience.

I am extremely grateful for the collaboration, dedication, and support of our entire school community throughout the year. Your commitment to the success of our students and the future of our district is what makes us a top school district and an amazing community. As we look forward to the next academic year, I am confident that we will continue to make great strides together.

Enjoy your summer recess!  Summer school begins June 6th and we’re all back in school for the 2023-2024 school year on August 16th.  Class of 2024 you’re up!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent


It’s Graduation Day for the Neon Zebras and the Juiceboxes

It’s Graduation Day in Worthington! I love graduation day! As Superintendent in Worthington, I have the best job in the world.  I get to work with the best team in the very best community, and today we get to celebrate the very best students.  We’ll graduate close to 775 students at the Columbus Convention Center this afternoon.  It’s such an incredible privilege to spend today with families celebrating their children’s accomplishments. 

Today the Neon Zebras will receive their diplomas during the noon Thomas Worthington Graduation held at the Columbus Convention Center.  If you were in Worthington for elementary school, you likely played a little soccer.  For most students, soccer often begins in preschool with Soccer Tots, and then for kindergarten – second grade athletes, soccer is played through Worthington Youth Boosters at the recreation level. It’s the sweet spot before some students move to travel soccer teams like Worthington United.  At that K-2 level, our children play on school-based teams and often choose their team’s name.  

Eleven years ago, there was a legendary recreation soccer team named themselves the Neon Zebras.  The games back then were on the grass behind Slate Hill Elementary.  I don’t think we could call them grass fields as they were often long, wet, and sometimes with some standing water on the pitch.  The parents would often have wet tennis shoes and be bundled in winter coats drinking from travel coffee mugs as they watched from the sideline.  The Neon Zebras had these awesome and not subtle green neon shirts and had a quirky Canadian coach who was ahead of his time, much like the fictional Ted Lasso.  The team was made up of a group of ridiculously talented girls who would go on in high school to play multiple sports at Thomas Worthington.  The defense was like a brick wall, and the offense flowed down the field like a young Megan Rapione and Carli Lloyd.  The girls rotated through at goalie, each looking forward to wearing the giant goalie gloves.  The team was dominant on the pitch, and more importantly, they had amazing snacks at halftime and sometimes went to Graeters after the game.

Graduation for Worthington Kilbourne High School will begin at 4:00 P.M.  Twelve years ago, there was a legendary recreation flag football team that Payton Metzger played on that named themselves the Juiceboxes.  You can tell that back then everyone loved a good juice box!  When they played football a little later for the Fighting Illini football team, I’m told that play went wrong, and Ian Elder collided with Owen Marano and Owen broke his nose.  In youth booster basketball, there was a remarkable team of young men that featured Kyle Earhart, Van Ferguson, Nicholas Richards, Nolan Farley, Grant Burson, Ian Elder, and Ethan Streets.  Coach Josh had the boys running up and down the court and sometimes they even made their lay-ups.  

When I think of a successful team, the Neon Zebras and the Juiceboxes come to mind for me, but each of our graduates has been on a successful team in Worthington at some point in their school career.  Some of those teams were athletic, others were music, theater, robotics, student government, or work-related.  Regardless of what kind of team you’re on, success almost never happens alone and the recipe for success is the same. 

Thus, as our graduates move on in life from this Worthington team to new teams, there are three items that I’m hopeful they will remember:

First, Nothing will happen unless you make it so. John F Kennedy once said, “Things do not happen. They are made to happen.” Remember that action is everything. It is the difference between dreaming and doing. If you want something to happen, you have to force it and will it to happen through your vision, action, and energy. This wisdom applies to friendship, entrepreneurship, and every other ship in between.  Make it happen!

Second, start your day with a smile. The first thing you should do every day while still lying in bed is put a big smile on your face. Science has proven that not only do we smile when we feel good, we actually feel good when we smile. Smiling is the easiest positive thing you’ll do all day. Yet, it has the power to propel and protect you until you crawl back into bed at night. 

Third,  Never stop improving yourself. You are like an iPhone. You should constantly be creating better versions of yourself. Each one is smarter, stronger, and more capable than the one before. (And now that you will start paying for your own phone, you’ll want to put a screen shield and protective case on that thing. Phones are expensive.)

Our graduates today will join the over 40,000 living alumni of Worthington Schools.  Welcome to our club!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent

TWHS @ Noon (Livestream link:

WKHS @ 4:00 PM:  (Livestream link:


Let’s Amplify Worthington!

The City of Worthington and the Worthington Chamber of Commerce have partnered together to produce a podcast series called Amplify Worthington.  Matt Lofy and David McCorkle are doing outstanding work and after not so subtly hinting that I’d like to be on the podcast they finally relented and allowed me to join them.  Thus, the latest episode is focused on updates and things to come from Worthington Schools.  

In this episode we talk about the legendary Worthington Schools physical education teacher, Dr. Gary Moore (you may know him as the creator of Supergames. I know him as my elementary gym teacher from Worthington Hills Elementary.) We discuss our master facilities phase two building projects and we talk about our quest to create workforce partnerships for Worthington students. 

The podcast was a lot of fun!  You can find the Amplify Worthington Podcast, on Apple, Spotify or Amazon.  So, I’d encourage you to listen to the episode in the car, while taking a walk or even on your computer at work!  Thanks to the City and Chamber for featuring our schools!

𝗟𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝗻𝗼𝘄:

🎧 Apple:

🎧 Spotify:

🎧 Amazon:

📹 Vimeo:


What’s Happening with Construction?

Construction fencing is up on the front lawn at Thomas Worthington.  If you drive past the school during the day you’ll see bulldozers actively moving dirt.  The recent construction activity is both exciting to see and creates a level of nostalgia towards the current building.  The activity also creates questions on what we’re actually doing.

Q1:  What are you doing?

We’re building a NEW school!  With the passage of Issue 7 back in November, Worthington Schools secured the necessary funding to move forward on Phase 2 of our Master Facilities Plan.  Phase 2 includes the rebuild of Thomas Worthington High School, the renovation of Worthington Kilbourne High School, a rebuild of the natatorium and additional turf practice fields at both TWHS and WKHS.  It’s going to be AWESOME!

Q2:  How much of Thomas Worthington is going to be rebuilt?

Almost all of it.  We’re going to renovate the current gymnasiums which were added in 1991.  Everything else will be torn down and will be new construction.

Q3:  How will you educate students while this occurs?

The Thomas Worthington building will be built in stages.  During construction, modular classrooms will be placed to the north of the current school.  Students will be able to use both existing spaces and the modulars during construction.  After only one year of construction, most of the new academic classrooms will be ready and students will move into those spaces.

Check out the detailed site plan and phasing here.

Q4:  What work is actually going on now?

Demolition of the south portion of the school will begin shortly after school is out. Construction of the new academic wing will begin shortly after.  

Check out what’s happening with Area A construction here.

Crews have constructed several types of fences to enclose the active construction site and protect our historic trees. This will soon become our staging area as we begin the partial demolition on a piece of the front of TWHS. We expect construction trailers and storage units to be delivered shortly.

In the front lawn, they are currently stripping off topsoil to build a laydown area. We will eventually install a water detention system and stormwater systems. This may begin as a detention pond but will eventually include an underground tank that will limit the flow of stormwater that leaves the site during heavy rains. We will then return this topsoil and return the area to green space once the building is complete. Our team will also begin to bore near the outdoor pool and under the student parking lot to install new fiber for the building. This will allow us to continue to operate technology through the various stages of construction.

Near the stadium, crews are preparing to pour concrete around the new exterior locker rooms and install the roofing system. This work requires significant grading work which will relocate some of the dirt located on our practice field. The remainder may be used at various stages of the TWHS project as well. In addition, we expect crews to soon arrive to begin work on installing our new turf practice field behind the visitor bleachers. This project will also require some water retention work. The turf project and the locker room building are expected to be complete by the end of the summer. Just in time for the start of fall sports. Go Cards!

You can read more about the TWHS Field House project here.

Q5:  Wait…is the City of Worthington ok with all of this?

Yep!  They’ve been great partners!

Here is our recent presentation to the City Council.

Here is our presentation to the City of Worthington Architectural Review Board.

Q6:  Will Thomas Worthington still host the fireworks on the 4th of July?

YES!  But, construction does cause some impact.  The school district is going to allow families to bring blankets and sit on the turf.  In order to allow this under regulations the fireworks do need to be reduced in size some.  But…the show will go on!

Q7:  What should Worthington Kilbourne expect?

We’re still in the design development phase for the Worthington Kilbourne renovations.  Most work at WKHS will begin in the Spring of 2024.  This summer we are installing a turf practice field with lights North of the current stadium and working to install restrooms and a concession stand on the visitor side of the WKHS stadium.  Go Wolves! Stay tuned for more detailed WKHS info.

Q8:  What about the natatorium?

We’ve been working diligently on a natatorium plan.  Input from both SwimInc and our Swim, Water Polo and Dive coaches has been invaluable.  The natatorium is set to be built to the south of the current natatorium so swim and dive are not disrupted during construction.  After the new natatorium is online we will remove the current building and plans show additional parking for the pools in that location.  We’re currently value-engineering the natatorium, working to meet the budget allocations and looking to break ground within the next 12 months.  Stay tuned for more detailed natatorium information coming soon.

Q9:  What about the outdoor pools?

SwimInc (the local nonprofit organization that runs the outdoor pools) is working diligently to secure funding to renovate the outdoor pools.  Worthington Schools is building the new natatorium as it serves the needs of multiple school-based athletic teams.

Q10:  If I have specific questions who should I contact

Randy Banks is the Assistant Superintendent for Operations 614.450.6017

Jeff Eble is the Director of Business Services 614.450.6037

Tim Gehring is the Director of Facilities Management 614.450.6082

We’re crazy excited about these projects while recognizing that they will create questions and concerns; we’re committed to working together to make sure we build for the future and care for our community in the process.

  • Trent Bowers, Superintendent

High School Semester Exams

During the pandemic we suspended our long-time practice of conducting final exams for high school courses.  As the pandemic waned we had numerous internal conversations regarding the future of finals and their relevance in 2023.  Should we reinstate finals?  What is the purpose of finals?  Do students need finals to be prepared for college?  If we didn’t continue with finals what would happen? These are all questions that we worked through before coming to a decision.

After gathering feedback from staff, students, and families last Spring, a decision was made to reinstitute semester exams. A committee of teachers and administrators was formed over the summer to dialogue through the purpose and process for the exams. A breakthrough part of the conversation led to the true purpose of summative assessments. Although we don’t think it’ll catch on, even the renaming from “Exam Week” to a “Celebration of Learning” reveals a powerful connotation to students and parents that assessment is instruction. If done correctly, this time could be meaningful in helping students to secure their knowledge, demonstrate their learning, or show their growth over the semester. This is an opportunity for teachers to also gather instruction to inform, provide feedback, and determine needs.

Wanting to ensure that we maximize the time devoted to exams, we challenged various representatives from high school departments to create meaningful blocks of assessment that could engage students in small group, individual, and even whole class work. In addition, varying the methods ranged from paper/pencil short answer items, essays, labs, discussion, and even demonstrations!

We’d like to thank our high school teachers for their hard work last semester in reflecting on their assessment practices, making changes, and working collectively to transform the time allocated for meaningful work. Based on the feedback from students, parents, and staff, it was a success!

As we continue to prepare for the end of the school year, we will continue the same spirit of reflection to review our mindset and approach to the semester exams. The ultimate goal is for each student to have the time to demonstrate their learning as well as have a plan for what they may need to adjust for future learning.  

High school students will take exams May 22nd – 24th.  Those exams are followed by summer break!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent


A Single Day

It’s certainly unfair “but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…” Yesterday was one of those days in Worthington.  It was a tragic day.  

Early Tuesday morning we were informed of the death of one of our students, a sixth grader at Perry Middle School, in a terrible car accident. The loss of a young life is an unimaginable tragedy, and our thoughts and condolences go out to the family, friends, and loved ones affected by this loss.

The student was a beloved member of our school community, and her passing has left a void that will be felt by all those who knew her. The Worthington Schools family also grieves with the student’s step-mother, who is an employee of the district and remains hospitalized at this time. 

Then on Tuesday evening, many students and families witnessed a medical emergency during the track meet between Worthington Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington. 

Sadly, after transporting the Thomas Worthington Track Team in his bus #26, Harry “Pete” Watkins was found unconscious outside the vehicle. Several parents worked to provide CPR and our WKHS athletic trainer acted quickly to use the AED prior to the squad arriving. Pete was immediately transported to Riverside Hospital.  Unfortunately, Pete did not survive. 

Pete was a postal service worker for 39 years before becoming a bus driver for Worthington Schools in 2019.  He was a dedicated driver and the grandfather of a Worthington student.  We’re devastated by his loss. 

Tuesday was a very hard day.  As a large school district we experience some level of tragedy each school year.  But, it’s rare that we lose a young student unexpectedly in an accident.  It’s more rare that the step-mom in the accident is a staff member on our team and another person we know and care deeply about.  And, it’s almost impossible that another trusted team member passes away unexpectedly.  It’s unimaginably heartbreaking.  As adults this is very difficult to process.  For our middle school students and for our transportation team it obviously creates significant emotion.  As I watched students crying in the Perry hallway or in classrooms I watched staff member after staff member working to help them, to process with them, to love them.  I watched our team talk with students, watched them talk on the phone with grieving families, and watched them attempt to find a moment to process with one another.  Tuesday was a very hard day.  This morning (Wednesday) as I write this I’m with our transportation team.  The scene is much the same.

And yet…I’m never more proud of our team than when tragedy hits.  In Worthington we use the phrase “Be Kind to Kids.” But, what we really mean at the core of that phrase is just LOVE them.  CARE for them.  HELP them.  And our entire team who was at Perry Tuesday loved people well.  Our counselor and mental health teams dropped what they were doing and came to Perry to help.  This morning the counselor team was at our transportation office at 5:45 AM.  Today they’ll be at both Perry and the bus garage.

As we processed the news last night I seriously considered closing school today.  Could we really ask drivers to process the death of a colleague and drive school buses?  How much could people take?  I don’t know all the answers.  In the end, I determined that we needed to be together, our students needed to be with trusted adults and we needed one another.  

Yesterday was a brutally tough day for several families in Worthington.  The days ahead will be difficult.  This is not a one day event.  Students and families will continue to need support.  I’ve asked our staff to continue to provide that support, while also being cognizant of taking care of themselves and their needs.  As the public school district, we want to support our students and families and we hope that by showing up for one another we can do just that.

One tragic day.  Please keep both of these families in your thoughts.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent


Partnering with the Buckeyes

Have you ever stood in the stairwell of a parking garage, and pointed your key fob to the floor above and then the floor below in order to listen for the sound of your car horn?  And then when you do hear the sound of your horn along with an echo, have you attempted to identify which floor of the parking garage your car is parked on while walking up and down several flights of stairs in order to find it?  

Picture three grown adults walking up and down the steps while “debating” with one another in a parking garage at The Ohio State University doing just that and I hope it makes you chuckle.  As the saying goes, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, call me, and I’ll laugh for you.”  I guarantee you that several college students were laughing at, and maybe even, with us.  

More importantly, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to partner with Mary Sterenberg, a Worthington Schools community member, parent, and professor at The Ohio State University.  Mary teaches the Public Communication Campaigns Course at the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University.  She believes in the importance of practical, real-world application for her students and Worthington Schools had the opportunity to be a part of this initiative. 

Toya Spencer, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Jeff Maddox, Director of Human Resources, and myself, Angie Adrean, Assistant Superintendent met with the class to brief the students on the overall campaign goals, target audience, budget, time frame, and research data.  In groups, the students researched Worthington Schools to better understand how to create a comprehensive campaign to answer our questions, “How can Worthington Schools encourage more people to go into the teaching profession to combat the national teacher shortage and how can we better position ourselves as an ideal employer for quality minority teachers?”

The campaign results were amazing!  Six student groups gave a formal presentation of their work this week, each “pitching” a proposal in a 12-minute presentation to the three of us.  In the end, we were asked to choose one “winning” campaign. This was super difficult for us because, for every presentation, we could have easily taken a strategy back to our team for immediate implementation.  Needless to say, we learned a great deal from this group of college seniors.  We even attempted to talk them into changing their majors so that we could hire them as teachers in Worthington Schools.  

We are fortunate that we get to work in Worthington Schools and we certainly believe that our work makes a difference.  However, we also know that we are better when we can partner with other organizations like The Ohio State University.  Thanks again to Mary Sterenberg, Professor, and to her amazing students.  Toya, Jeff, and I wish you the best of luck, and at your request, we will be sure to download LinkedIn so that we can connect with you and share the strategies we are implementing because of our connection.  (Seriously, you are already changing the world and we are getting lost in the parking garage.)

 – Angie Adrean, Assistant Superintendent

Congratulations to the Campaign Team, #DearFutureTeacher!


Social Studies K-8 High Quality Instructional Materials Adoption Process

There is significant discussion around curriculum resources used in K-12 schools in Ohio.  In Worthington, we strive to be fully transparent as we adopt a new curriculum.  At tonight’s Worthington Board of Education meeting the Board will hear a presentation on K-8 Social Studies materials.  Following the meeting, materials will be available for community review through May 9, when the Board will vote to adopt the recommended curricular resources. If the Board votes affirmatively, teachers will receive teacher editions and other instructional resources prior to the end of this school year. Professional learning will begin in August and be ongoing throughout 23-24.

Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education, identifies that “each child should have access to relevant and challenging academic experiences and the educational resources necessary.” In order to meet this expectation, our teachers deserve high-quality instructional materials that act as a common language and platform for engaging all partners in students’ educational experiences.

In Worthington, the last formal social studies resource adoptions took place in 2010 (K-2) and 2013 (3-8). Ohio’s Learning Standards for Social Studies were updated in 2018.

While the pandemic brought additional online support for grades 3-8, it also delayed the opportunity to consider updated high-quality instructional materials.

The process to recommend K-8 social studies resources for adoption began during the 21-22 academic year and is still in progress. During 21-22, grade 8 teacher representatives engaged in a curriculum review process that emphasized the need for updated resources. A focus group of these teachers, principals, parents, and students gave community stakeholders a voice and yielded curriculum criteria that have guided the selection process.

As the 22-23 school year began, Worthington’s Director of Academic Achievement and Professional Learning, Kelly Wegley, vetted available options and narrowed them for teacher review. Since late November, teacher representatives have been working in grade band teams (K-2, 3-5, and 6-8). Teachers reviewed 4-5 resources at vendor presentations in late November/early December and further narrowed the field to 2 pilot options. During January and February, the teachers taught units and explored each of the pilot resources in partnership with their students – and often with grade-level teammates and/or TBTs. During a February 2023 progress update, the Curriculum Liaisons Council (composed of representatives from each school, AAPL team members, and 2 members from the Board of Education) offered additional curriculum criteria.

In March, each grade-band team gathered one more time to finalize their recommendation for adoption.

Our sincere gratitude is extended to the teachers who said “yes” to something extra at a time when the daily challenges of their work are as great as they have ever been.

  • Grades K-2: Katie Ballinger, Anna Crocker, Barb Martin, Karmyn Metzger, Scott Norris, Jennifer Schulze, and Katrina Turner
  • Grades 3-5: Maggie Capel, Traci Funk, Joannie Long, Tori McCloud, Jennifer Rakocy, Taylor Rankey, Emily Rigali, Tina Swearengin, Morgan Tudor, and Amanda Young
  • Grades 6-8: Hillary Chawla, Troy Combs, Staci Coyle, Libbi Craig, Brennan O’Neill, Amanda Pettigrew, Chelsey Pulda, Greg Ross, and Tiffany Smith

Their positive commitment and representative service will benefit colleagues, students, and our community as we strive to meet our district mission and vision, as well as the goals of Each Child, Our Future.

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent


I believe expectations are higher than ever

I was recently talking with an engaged community member whose children are now adults and thus does not have kids in school.  He shared his sincere concerns with me that he feels like public schools no longer have high expectations for students.  It’s a fascinating dichotomy that Gallup captured in a recent survey that has been completed yearly over the past 20 years.  

Gallup asked the question of U.S. Adults:  Overall how satisfied are you with the quality of education students receive in kindergarten through grade twelve in the U.S. today?  For parents with students in school the question was slightly different: Overall how satisfied are you with the quality of education your oldest child is receiving?  The results are stunning and yet have been consistent for 20 years.  For those without kids in school there is only a 42% satisfaction rate, but for parents of kids in school almost 80% are satisfied with their child’s education.  

Why the disconnect?  Obviously, some of it is the relentless political attack on education.  Long ago politicians on both the right and the left learned that people care deeply about their children’s education and if they claim it is broken and they have a plan to fix it then their chances of being elected increases.  But, I think the disconnect is greater than just political messaging.

The world is changing and education continues to change to meet the needs of the future.  If you’ve ever attempted to help a middle school student with their math homework you’ll quickly recognize that standards are not lower, they’re infinitely higher.  Students no longer memorize times tables or work relentlessly on their handwriting. They’re thinking, processing, and being challenged to work together.  

Even in our co-curriculars the standards of today are infinitely higher. Growing up I would play football during football season, lacrosse during lacrosse season, and maybe train a little in my Reebok cross-trainers.  For our student-athletes to compete today, they must train for their sport year-round. They often play one sport and play on a club team for another sport during the same season.  I don’t like it, but if you want to compete on a competitive OCC team, it’s required.  Music works the same way.  Our marching band students work year-round and often get private music coaches so they can perform at the desired level.  No one can just show up and hope to have a spot.

As a dad raising kids today, I don’t believe we’ve lowered standards.  If anything I’m concerned we may have raised them in some areas too far.  Now…all that said.  We do some things today that are foreign to many of us as adults.  We focus more on learning, and as such, we may be more flexible with due dates on assignments or allow students to redo their work.  Classes may meet on flexible schedules because the technology allows it and school may start later so students can sleep more.  None of these lower the expectations for students.  In many cases, they increase them.  Re-doing assignments takes more work than just keeping a poor grade.  It also increases learning.

The Gallup study shows that parents understand what their children are doing.  Unfortunately, it also shows that non-parents don’t.  Obviously, I’m the Superintendent of a public school district so you may want to take my perspective with a “grain of salt.”  But I’d say don’t believe what you hear.  Talk to parents with kids in school.  Expectations for our children are at an all-time high!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent