Pam Stranathan
USD 231 superintendent
The Gardner Edgerton School District has experienced another exemplary year as it relates to student achievement and student and staff accomplishments.  As always, USD 231 staff members are dedicated to providing a world-class education for our students and that is being recognized both locally and nationally.
Examples of student success include Hyrum Harlow, Junior at Gardner Edgerton High School, who scored a 1500 on the PSAT.  That places him in the 99th percentile.  Jacob Serrioz, Senior at Gardner Edgerton High School, earned 3 separate Advanced Technical Center certifications during the Winter testing window.  Additionally, 15 students have successfully earned their ASE Certification for Maintenance and Light Repair.
Katey Foley, French Teacher at Gardner Edgerton High School, has been recognized by the Kansas State Department of Education as an outstanding first year teacher.  The Horizon Award is reserved for those teachers who have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding. There are only eight teachers in our region who are recognized with this distinction in 2019.
About 200 community members attended the 2018 Senior Citizens Luncheon hosted at Gardner Edgerton High School on October 24.  This annual event provides GEHS Student Council members with the opportunity to plan and cater an amazing menu.  Students enhanced many skills that day, such as communication, professionalism, customer service, and manners.
The USD 231 Nutrition Services Department is proud to offer a mobile ordering app for students at Gardner Edgerton High School.  The Blazer Deli provides a method in which students can order through the Free Nutrislice App on their mobile device.  Box lunches are served with options of either a salad or deli sandwich.  Another advantage of this option is there is no waiting in line!
Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Programs (GEYCP) USD 231 is committed to exploring innovative programming that can enhance and enrich the learning opportunities for all students.  In year one, GEYCP developed a foundational plan to expose students to dynamic programming from elementary school through graduation called Building Blazers. Though Building Blazers is in its infancy, the program already encompasses three youth clubs and has either developed or assisted with the organization and registration needs of seven different Building Blazers Programs with enrollments over 500 students and growing.  More Building Blazers Programs are scheduled for this school year in a wide range of extra-curricular activities.  The Building Blazers Programming encompasses athletics, fine arts, and a wide variety of other programming.  GEYCP is in the process of developing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based activities, after school art workshops, youth theater and more to engage, challenge and motivate students.
GEYCP has also worked with local companies to provide adults and students with enrichment activities such as Lego STEM workshops, woodworking, a mother/daughter craft project, painting, as well as, youth cooking and baking classes.
As social and emotional needs continue to rise, our district counselors and social workers have been focusing on Trauma Informed Care and educating staff as to how that impacts our students, their families, and their learning. The Gardner Edgerton School District, along with Blue Valley, Olathe, De Soto, Shawnee Mission, and Spring Hill have teamed up to launch the Zero Reasons Why community mobilization campaign to prevent teen suicide.  This campaign is focused on empowering community members to take action toward change. It will organize, facilitate and support students, parents, educators, health providers, and other stakeholders in implementing action plans, programs, events, and outreach efforts.  We feel strongly that by mobilizing necessary resources, disseminating information, generating support, and fostering cooperation across public and private sectors in the community, we can influence the conversation and destigmatize the issue.
The school district continues to value and emphasize the importance of collaborating with community partners.  One recent example of this work is the new partnership between USD 231 and local Fire District #1 to add a Fire Safety Management Pathway to the curriculum offered at Gardner Edgerton High School.  This pathway will be offered beginning second semester of the 2019-20 school year.  The classes will take place at the Fire District facility and instruction will come from members of the Fire Department.  Courses offered will include Fire Safety 1 and 2 and will provide students a head start on a career as a Firefighter.
In a continued effort to increase communication and offer opportunities to students, USD 231 has started a weekly podcast entitled “The 231 Way.” This podcast is being offered as part of an ongoing effort by Central Office administration to work more directly with students and increase awareness of district activities, initiatives, and accomplishments. Seven GEHS students have been chosen to start the program and act as “co-hosts.” Episodes are released on a weekly basis and focus on timely and relevant information related to the school district and community at-large. Barring technical difficulties, episodes are released weekly on Thursday afternoons.
In closing, as a district, we are proud of our accomplishments and thankful for the opportunity to educate the children of our community and work collaboratively with families and the community at-large.  It is for these many reasons, “We Are…USD 231.”