• USD 207 teachers, staff gather for convocation

  • USD 207 teachers and staff return for a convocation to begin the academic year.

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    Jason Sickel, the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year, was the guest speaker at the annual Unified School District 207 convocation to start the academic year Aug. 2 at Patton Junior High School.
    USD 207 Board President Myron Griswold welcomed the teachers, whom he said included 33 new hires and introduced Sickel.
    Sickel has been teaching for 13 years and is currently the vocal music director at Blue Valley North High School, where he has taught for four years.
    He began his presentation by asking all of the teachers in the auditorium to stand in place —then delivered a call-and-response rhythmic musical interlude, which the teachers imitated.
    “I like to start my presentation with that call-and-response exercise,” Sickel said. “We will come back to it and do it again at the end of my talk.”
    Sickel’s presentation used situational examples to amplify his main point that relationships are essential to successful teaching. He used video, slides and audience participation to emphasize his points and connect them to the field of education.
    “Building strong relationships is important because doing so empowers learning situations,” Sickel said. “I come from a family of educators and believe teaching is a calling I have had my entire life.”
    Sickel was named the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year from a field of eight finalists. He works throughout the year to advocate for education and teaching.
    “Let’s conclude as we started,” Sickel said and asked the audience of teachers to stand. “Okay, mirror my actions once again, and you should experience notably better success.”
    Dr. Keith Mispagel, USD 207 superintendent, gave an overview of the district’s 2017-2018 schoolyear during his presentation to the educators.
    His talk included details regarding the state finance formula based on the state supreme court decision, impact aid and district enrollment numbers.
    “Impact aid is safe for now, but under scrutiny with the current administration,” Mispagel said.
    Mispagel centered the remaining part of his presentation on a theme using four dots to signify various aspects of the district’s mission and goals for the school year. He said the areas include accreditation, math, language arts, social and emotional behavior.
    “We will implement several new programs based upon grants the district has received.”
    Mispagel said the district received a five-year $1.5 million grant to implement “The Leader in Me” program.
    “Year one involved all of the planning. This year we begin year two of five and implementing the plan,” Mispagel said.
    The first day of school is Aug. 10.
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