North Wood R-IV eighth graders

North Wood R-IV eighth graders, from left, Melina Hawn, Aubrianna Hawn, Mason Hawn, Matthew Koontz and Dylan Parker, took part in the school’s development of a five-year plan.

Dozens of people gathered at North Wood R-IV School last week, including board members, teachers, parents and students. They were all involved with discussing the three- to five-year strategic plan that the school is working on.

Facilitating the discussion was Dr. Kevin Daniel, the founder and CEO of Fired Up Consulting.

“What we do is we do a lot of strategic planning for organizations,” said Daniel. “Basically, my role is as a facilitator of a conversation that will lead to the creation of building their next strategic plan for five years.”

According to school superintendent Dr. Jeff Dodson one of the main things they discussed was figuring out their mission, vision and belief statements as well as a motto.

“It’s everybody working together for the greater good of the whole district and the community,” said Dallas Kyle, who teaches fifth to eighth grade math and algebra. “I want to see our students become intrinsically motivated to succeed.”

David Massengale, who serves on the school board and has children who attend North Wood, talked about how the strategic plan is intended to get everyone working on the same page.

“It sets up some forward-thinking goals,” he said.

There were five eighth grade students directly involved in those discussions, including Melina Hawn, Aubrianna Hawn, Mason Hawn, Matthew Koontz and Dylan Parker.

“We’re here giving a student perspective about what we think should possibly change at the school and what we think,” said Aubrianna Hawn.

Dodson explained the purpose of having the students involved with the process.

“When you look at stakeholders, you have to make sure that the people you serve are included in that process,” said Dodson. In this case, those stakeholders are the students and parents.

“We need to know what they’re thinking,” said Dodson.

Melina Hawn chimed in, “As students, we’re going to know what students’ needs are pretty clearly. It’s also good to have students who can be role models to others.”

According to Dylan Parker not only do they have a chance to give their perspective, but it’s a chance for them to improve and learn as well.

“We are involved in a lot of leadership positions right now, like JAG, which is program that helps our community a lot. So, I feel like being invited to this really effects our leadership, I think it’s a chance to be better leaders and role models to help out the community,” said Parker.

“I see it as job shadowing,” said Matthew Koontz. “They’re giving us an inside look at what the teachers have to do. It’s good experience and will help the future generations.”

“It’s a good chance for us to see and tell other students just how the staff and administration work for us,” said Melina Hawn.

“Once we’re involved, it’s a good chance to keep getting better,” said Mason Hawn.

Parker spoke of some of the things he hopes to come out of the discussion.

“I really like how we’re talking about how we can improve the school, when it comes to technology and how each student learns differently,” he said. “Recognizing that, I feel like that’s a really big change that we need to know. Students learn differently, some learn auditory and some visual. When we can get a scale for that it can improve grades and a lot of other things.”

“I really hope that’s something that resonates with people,” said Dodson. “I’m really glad that Dylan (Parker) shared that. “We do not just put them in this cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all sort of approach.”

Daniel said that he was impressed with the level of engagement he sees from the staff at North Wood and the support that the community puts behind the school.

“They’re engaged in the conversation because they want to make it better,” he said.

“We want to create a really great experience for our students,” said Dodson.