Hello Ray-Pec Parent Community,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mike Slagle, and I am extremely happy to be your new Ray-Pec superintendent of schools as of today, July 1. I come to you after having spent the first 26 years of my education career in Johnson County on the Kansas side, and I have appreciated getting to know the Ray-Pec community. My wife and I recently moved into the Ray-Pec School District, and we feel very welcomed into this community. I look forward to working with an outstanding team in serving our students.
My journey to the Ray-Pec Community
One of the first questions the Ray-Pec Board of Education asked me in the interview process, and one that many of the people I have met from this school district have asked, is the question of “what brings me to Ray-Pec?” My journey to this place started on an October evening about 5 years ago. On a whim, I decided to attend a high school football game outside of Johnson County, and ventured over to Ray-Pec to watch the Panthers take on Rockhurst High School. I did not know it was a football playoff game until I got here, and let us just say there was a bit of excitement in the air. It was a great game, the Panthers won, and it was a memorable event. But what made it most memorable, however, was not the score nor the contest, but the interactions I had with Ray-Pec students. From the time I parked my car and entered the stadium to the time I left, I was impressed with the politeness, friendliness, and class of the students I interacted with. I even went out of my way a couple of times, being the geeky school administrator that I am, to talk to students and see if my first impressions were validated. In each case, they were. I came to Ray-Pec for a football game that evening. I left with a great feeling about the district, knowing that good things are happening here and were evidenced through the interactions I had with the students. When the superintendent position of Ray-Pec opened last fall, the first thing I thought about was meeting those students on that night in October 2015. It made me want to apply and learn more about this great district. I am very glad I did. This is indeed a special place.
My reason for being
One thing that you will quickly learn about me is that I am passionately driven by the simple belief that Everyone Is Created To Flourish.
There are two words in that phrase that especially drive me. The first word is "Everyone.” I believe that Everyone, regardless of class, creed, ethnicity or background, is created to Flourish. For those of us called to education, Everyone means every student and every staff member. Everyone. Every. Day.
The second word that especially drives me in that phrase is the word "Flourish.” The word Flourish can best be defined in this way: "To grow and develop in the most healthy and most vigorous of ways, especially as the result of a favorable environment." To a word nerd like me, the term "favorable environment" excites me. That is what we get to do in education each and every day. We build that favorable environment. An environment to allow Everyone the ability to grow and develop in the most healthy and most vigorous of ways. We build an environment to allow Flourishing to happen.
Everyone Is Created To Flourish.
I am driven by that belief, both as a person and as a professional.
Planning for 2020-2021
There is a lot I want to say in this first email to you, so let me start by letting you know that I am looking forward to the 2020-2021 school year in a major way. As you know, the last ten weeks of the 2019-2020 school year were marked by school closures and an emergency online learning plan. It was a heroic and much appreciated effort by our Ray-Pec teachers and staff teams to put together a learning plan with no notice, and to provide key non-instructional services on which our students and parents rely. As we move into this school year, much remains unsettled. We are planning for a variety of contingencies regarding the opening of school in August, and more information will be coming your way on July 10 via email. I can share that as of now, our approach for the August 24 school opening will include a choice of in-person instruction in a risk-reduced environment or an online option for students and parents not comfortable with an in-person instructional format. A team of teachers, building leaders and parent community members has been working through a variety of issues related to reopening. The July 10 email will include our procedures for how we will approach the opening of school in August and will also include the information we need from you to serve you best. Be on the lookout for more information about registration and school opening plans on July 10.
There are several other opportunities that we, as a school community, have before us this year. These include, but are not limited to:
- Growth and enrollment issues as we work through the Long Range Facility Planning process.
- Continued work on the three focus areas of the Strategic Plan:
- Success Ready Students
- High Quality Staff
- Financial Responsibility
I look forward to working with the Ray-Pec team and community on these topics.
The space we sit in as a country and community
The Ray-Pec Board of Education and I I feel one of the most important opportunities we have as a school community this year is to engage in complex conversations around meeting the needs of all students and all staff members regardless of race, ethnicity, orientation, or creed. Without a doubt, these past several weeks have been a difficult time in our country. But I truly feel that through all of this, we have an opportunity through conversation and action to make this school district an even more welcoming and safe place. Earlier in this email, I wrote that my personal “why” statement is that I believe
Everyone Is Created to Flourish
. Everyone truly means everyone. I will always believe that we are stronger when we seek to understand the concerns of our students and staff members, and work to address those concerns to build an environment where true human flourishing is possible. I will have more information about the work on this critical topic in future correspondence to you.
As I said earlier, I am excited to be your superintendent. Over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, I plan to come to you periodically with additional updates and information about the above topics and any others we need to share. I look forward to meeting the opportunities and challenges that the 2020-2021 school year has in store for us.
I wish you a safe, happy and healthy July 4th weekend.
Thank you for trusting your children with the Ray-Pec School District,