District Leadership Leaping Forward with Innovation
Interview with Mehlville School District Superintendent Dr. Chris Gaines
By Dr. Rod Berger
Despite budget constraints, rapid technology advancements and major pedagogical shifts, Mehlville School District Superintendent Chris Gaines constantly seeks opportunity and ways to say ‘yes’ when facing various challenges.
Like most public school administrators, he faces a lot of challenges when it comes to budgeting and paying for the education of the students he serves. Chris shares the creative ways his district partners with outside, private businesses to bring down costs as they face the increased constraints of a stagnant economy.
He’s also taking a new approach in the district’s elementary schools by encouraging students to set their own learning goals. Of the ten elementary schools in the district, four have begun student progress monitoring while setting future goals. The other six elementary schools plan to follow suit with the ground-breaking initiative in the next two years.
District leadership is also concentrating on high school improvements. Chris reveals a pilot in the works referred to as “Design Your Own High School Experience” that will formally roll out next year. The program gives students credit for learning activities outside of the formal school setting. The district is asking kids and their families to come to them with ideas, promising to do their best to put the suggestions into action.
It’s a very accepting and progressive approach to 21st-century learning that is certainly worth watching.
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