SCHS officials react to change in priority status | New

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JARED BARTON SCHUYLER SUN

“A scarlet letter” is how Schuyler Central High School Principal Dr. Joey Lefdal and Vice-Principal Samantha Ladwig described SCHS’s “priority status.”

“Priority status” is assigned to schools deemed to be underperforming based on a set of state standards outlined by the school board.

After an impassioned presentation on June 3 to the Nebraska School Board by the Schuyler Community Schools leadership team, along with the Schuyler Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Daniel Hoesing and board member Richard Brabecthis status has been removed.

“Dr. Hoesing spoke on behalf of our school about how Schuyler is unique and diverse and that we meet the kids where they are instead of putting them in a box,” Ladwig said.

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In Schuyler’s case, the advice focused on high absenteeism rates, declining graduation rates and the time it took for students to graduate.

“Understanding from both sides was what I was looking for. The department learned from that and so did we as a school. benefited”, Hoesing said.

Nearly four years ago, when the statute was enacted, the Board of Education considered SCHS to be the lowest performing school in the state, which Hoesing doesn’t think is correct.

“Some of the assumptions, the reasons weren’t right. They didn’t know who we were, and there were a lot of things they didn’t understand: our learning climate, our culture and our work with children and families,” Hoesing said.

Each year, the management team took stock of any improvements in areas of concern. This year, after several years of consistently better numbers, the board finally recommended the team apply for a status change. During the meeting, the team was able to discuss with the leaders the issues and how they fixed them.

The main point made by the team was that Schuyler is primarily an immigrant school, with students from many places who all have different needs and the standards in place do not accommodate this as the staff at the school does.

“I want people to understand that kids are kids no matter where they come from or where they are,” Ladwig said.

Ladwig, a former student of SCHS itself, went on to say that the school treats each student as an individual with individual goals rather than an entire unit with one overarching goal. She added that the meeting was important for the team to explain how the staff methodology may not reflect quantitatively, but rather qualitatively.

“I think it’s important for people to hear our story rather than just take the label off,” Ladwig said. “It was really an open session where we got to tell our story in more detail in a more conversational setting.”

Lefdal said the school will continue to implement many of the practices the school adopted during the program, but is glad the statute itself is being removed.

“We have great things to do at Schuyler and it hurt us to have that label, but in the end it made us better. It made our school better, our teachers better and I think that made me made better,” Lefdal said.

Hoesing added that he thinks it’s not just an encouragement for the students, but also for their parents.

“I think it reaffirms for our staff, our parents and our teachers that the school is quality,” Hoesing said. “We take the children where they are. We don’t judge. The programs in place help children do better when they leave.”

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