Pam Stranathan

Pam Stranathan
USD 231 superintendent
As you look around the landscape of Gardner Edgerton School district, it is obvious that progress is in motion.
This past year was an exciting one as the District opened the doors to the new Advanced Technical Center and the new Culinary Program on the campus of Gardner Edgerton High School. Since this fall, high school students now have greater opportunity to further their interests in technical industries and the culinary arts.
In the automotive advanced program, seven students obtained ASE certification this past month; Andrew Ohman, Daylen Sirithisack, Hayden Mulford, Logan Wheeler, Matt Layng, Owen Haulmark and Reid Frase. Congratulations to these students on pursuing and excelling at this level of advanced education. ASE Engine Mechanical Repair student certification is the first step in building a career as a service professional in the automotive industry. Marking the completion of career entry studies in automotive technology, these tests can provide the student with their first industry certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. In addition, Terence Antoszewski completed the I-Car Intro Series Certificate first semester. These advanced programs were made possible by construction of the Advanced Technical Center and additional enhanced programming.
The goal of the Construction Trades program is to offer students an introduction to the numerous career opportunities and skills required in the various construction trades. The course culminates over a period of a year in the construction of a small scale structure in teams. Students are working on all aspects of building a complete tiny house. Watch for the article on the construction trades program in the spring edition of the Horizon.
Students in the welding program are learning how to use the equipment by working on various introductory skills. Projects including metal planters and running beads along a joint serve as practice for the students as they work their way to more advanced levels. In addition, the students are learning how to design metals using the Plasma Table and are also learning industry safety standards and employer expectations in the welding field.
The new culinary program is preparing students to pursue post-secondary education and careers in the food preparation, hospitality and culinary management fields. As students’ progress through the program and reach the upper level classes, they will have the opportunity to participate in high school team culinary challenges regionally; and hopefully nationally. Students are gaining knowledge of the culinary arts through a general classroom setting and hands-on experience. Bistro 425, the new restaurant in the culinary area, has been a tremendous asset to the program providing students with real-world food prep and foodservice experience by catering internal events and meetings. This fall, the students hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon for high school staff by preparing and serving the entire meal.
In addition to the new Career and Technical programs offered, technology use in the classroom has also been enhanced for greater learning and teaching. Since 2016, the Gardner Edgerton School District has invested significantly in the integration of emerging technology resources to increase current and future opportunities for USD 231 students. All students in grades 5 through 12, as well as teaching staff are now equipped with a Dell Chromebook. The 1:1 Initiative has been very successful at these levels. It is planned to introduce the Chromebook to the elementary level in the near future.
Results from the 1:1 initiative confirm that our students thrive in this highly-interactive instructional environment, and therefore become more directly involved, not only in what they learn, but in how they ultimately apply those principles to future experiences. Not only student learning has changed over the past two years, but how our educators teach has changed as well.
In addition to these programs, a new TRAILS facility opened this fall. The TRAILS program provides specifically designed instruction to equip individuals with exceptionalities to live, communicate, and work within their community. This program is designed to prepare students to transition from school to adult life. The TRAILS facility offers real-life experiences and provides an appropriate environment to learn these skills to make the transition both easy and comfortable. The facility resembles ‘home living’ with all the necessary rooms and utilities to teach how to cook, clean, manage a home, and provide personal care as independent adults.
As progress is in motion, so is growth. Each year an approximate 150 new students enter Gardner Edgerton schools. In an effort to address future building capacity issues at the high school, a new education wing was constructed and opened in the fall. This new wing at the high school includes eighteen additional classrooms for added curricular space and advanced programming. In addition, the Blazer baseball and soccer fields are currently in the process of receiving a facelift with the installation of turf. The improvement allows our students to perform at their highest level at home, and on equitable playing fields in surrounding school districts.
As we look to the future and monitor continuous enrollment growth, it’s imperative we act now and consider boundary re-alignment to preserve equity in all schools. This spring and continuing into the fall, the district, along with demographic experts, will host public forums to gather input and share information regarding best possible refiguring of boundary lines within the district. As those dates are set, more information will be forthcoming.
As this past year was truly an exciting year for progress and growth in USD 231, we now turn toward the future. There’s no doubt the coming year will bring greater achievements for students and continued progress for Gardner Edgerton School District.