Pam Stranthan
USD 231
The Gardner Edgerton School District is proud to share the highlights of what has been another outstanding year. Our successes include incredible student achievements, staff accomplishments, and an exceptional, ongoing relationship with our community partners. Our staff members continue to be dedicated to providing a world-class education for our students and that is being recognized both locally and nationally.
USD 231 is committed to providing support systems for our students. One successful example of this commitment is the Freshman Focus at Gardner Edgerton High School. Students in grade nine have been assigned a full-time counselor and a full-time administrator to provide a more direct line of support. With an open-door policy and clear expectations for accountability, students and parents know they have resources more readily accessible to meet the emotional, social, and academic needs of their students. Additionally, the Link Crew, made up of 60 peer mentors, provide orientation, as well as on-going weekly lessons and activities during the ninth grade seminar. These sessions promote coping skills, study habits, organizational tips, and a sense of belonging among the Blazer family.
We are also proud to share that over 30 students have received ASE certification through the Auto Technology program at the Advanced Technology Center. Additionally, GEHS students participated in and were selected as a top twenty finalist in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition, which encourages and recognizes student efforts in the field of engineering.
Emily Baden, a fourth-grade teacher at Nike Elementary, 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 were recognized with this distinction in 2020.
Approximately 180 community members attended the 2019 Senior Citizens Luncheon hosted at Gardner Edgerton High School on October 23. This annual event provides GEHS Student Council members with the opportunity to plan and cater a fantastic menu. Students enhanced many skills that day, such as communication, professionalism, customer service, and manners.
The USD 231 Nutrition Services department kicked off the fourth-annual Student-Led Menus project at all elementary schools. All fourth-grade students work together in their classrooms to plan a meal for their building’s lunch menu using the USDA guidelines for school lunches. Each classroom’s selection is then served to their entire building on a designated date in April. This project incorporates nutrition education with technology, mathematics, civics, and marketing activities. One winning classroom in each building will be crowned at the end of the project based on the percentage of students who participated on each date. We especially love this project because it allows our students to provide input on what foods are most desired. Selected student ideas will even be planned into future menu rotations based on participation results from this project.
Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Programs (GEYCP) has continued its commitment to providing innovative programming intended to enhance and enrich learning opportunities for all students.  Understanding the need for youth theater programming, GEYCP offered its first theater camp in June of 2019. Currently, GEYCP is taking registrations for its third production, “Aristocats – Kids,” a third through sixth-grade spring break camp. GEYCP is slated to offer four productions next year beginning with “Guys and Dolls – Junior,’’ this summer.
GEYCP has partnered with GEHS athletic teams providing skill instruction to participants ages four through six during its Youth Experience Programs. High school coaches enjoy having their players interact and share their passion for sports with the youth in our community.
Since the end of the 2018/2019 school year, GEYCP has processed over 3,300 registrations for programming ranging from adult CPR to Dicken’s Feast tickets, and youth athletic clubs.
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. Gardner Edgerton High School was one of only 35 schools across the country selected to participate in a Teen Mental Health First Aid pilot program. Through this grant, all sophomores at GEHS took part in a four class period series that covered mental health topics including resources and steps to get help from a trusted adult.  Members of Johnson County Mental Health presented the information. Another groundbreaking collaboration with Johnson County Mental Health resulted in the creation of a new position: a district co-responder. The co-responder is a Johnson County Mental Health employee that works for our district and assists in any mental health crisis and offers support to students and families recovering from crisis or trauma. The co-responder provides a bridge from school to the resources needed by the student and family.
The school district continues to value and emphasize the importance of collaborating with community partners. Select Gardner Edgerton High School students applied and were selected to participate in our newly designed Fire Safety Management Pathway. In collaboration with local Fire District #1, these classes are held at the Fire District facility, and instruction is provided by members of the Fire Department. Courses include Fire Safety 1 and 2 and provide students a head start on a career as a Firefighter.
Our community and school district have numerous accomplishments, of which to be proud. We remain thankful for the opportunity to educate the children of our community and work collaboratively with families and the community-at-large. We are especially proud of the positive working relationship with our partners at the fire department, city, chamber, and police department.
It is for these many reasons, “We Are USD 231.”