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Superintendents’ Forum: Creating the Future with Our Students

Christian Temchatin Photo

This article was originally published in the Reading Eagle: 

By: Mr. Christian Temchatin, Kutztown Area School District Superintendent
Thursday, November 10, 2022

Public education is a highly noble and ambitious project. As a community, at the federal, state and, most prominently, in our local communities, we commit to providing a world-class education to support the American dream and the next generation to carry the torch of innovation, ideals of freedom, democracy, and capitalism.

For schools, this requires us to continuously peer into the future to assess and predict the skills and competencies our students will need to thrive, not only in the college or career paths they pursue immediately following graduation but the unfathomable opportunities they will seek in the future.

In the Kutztown School District, we view this challenge through the lens of our district vision statement, “Maximize Potential, Embrace Change, and Create the Future.”

A current focus in Kutztown is to challenge ourselves and our stakeholders — including teachers, staff, students, parents, community members and partnering organizations — to articulate each promise of our vision.

Successful members of the future workforce will be proficient in literacy, math and science. Still, to truly thrive, they must be independent thinkers who solve real-world problems, communicate, collaborate and emotionally and intellectually manage a cognitive load.

For decades we have heeded warnings of the role that technology, and now artificial intelligence, will play in our workforce and lives. We have learned in those times that no matter how many processes and tasks technology is designed to accomplish, there are uniquely human skills, and we must become better at employing those skills to navigate ambiguity and uncertainty.

When asked to consider what maximizing potential, embracing change, and creating the future means to them, the responses of educators, parents, and students are nearly identical. They identify teaching students the process and joy of learning, incorporating authentic, real-world experience in the classroom and their community, student voice and agency, and opportunities to explore interests and passions.

This week, in talking with a group of students, one shared that schools should provide students with the opportunity to grapple with real problems of today and find solutions. This student spoke eloquently for his peers that they are excited to create the future.

The noble project of public education continues to be a successful endeavor. Our success has been predicated on accepting this responsibility as a community and responding to the changing needs of students and their future.

Today’s students face new and unique challenges that change and evolve daily. They are equipped with intricate systems and strategies for communication and collaboration. They have an innate entrepreneurial spirit. These and many other skills will drive their pursuits of purpose and success.

Schools understand the imperative to evolve with our students. We must embrace change, keep our eyes on the future and prepare for 2035 and beyond, when our current kindergarten students will graduate. We need our entire communities to embrace the noble project of educating our youth and their development of the uniquely human skills that serve us all well.

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