Springfield launches school year with strategic planning process

Springfield City School District will start the new school year Wednesday with a strategic planning process for the first time.

Superintendent Robert Hill discussed the planning process during the district’s convocation for teachers and staff members on Tuesday morning.

“I think (it) will give us a clear path to helping students be successful,” Hill said.

The event for all staff in the district came with a special message from South High graduate Jayson Gee.

“I wanted to inspire them to say you can be that person that invades Jayson Gee’s life and inspires him,” Gee said.

The convocation comes a day before most districts in Clark and Champaign counties go back to school.

Clark-Shawnee, Greenon, Northwestern, Northeastern, Southeastern, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, Tecumseh, Triad all start on Wednesday, as well as Springfield students up to ninth grade.

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Springfield 10th through 12th grade students start on Thursday.

Hill wanted staff to walk away from the convocation with four value statements that emerged from the planning process. Those values are: student-centered, collaborative, curious and diverse.

If all staff members embodied these values, they can change the educational model, he said, and ensure student success in college or their given career choices.

“It is somewhat difficult with how many buildings we have, how many staff members we have and 8,000 students,” he said. “Couple that with the economic disadvantage factor we face in this town, it becomes even more difficult.”

“However, I’m a firm believer in that we control what goes on inside these four walls. What happens outside is outside, but once they get here we’re going to make an environment where they will learn.”

A number of teachers in the Springfield school system encouraged Gee to do better, he said. He’s currently the men’s basketball coach at Longwood University.

Gee noted that teachers and staff members face unbelievable odds in helping students make it out of adverse situations outside of school.

“Difficult circumstances are not impossible, there’s a difference between difficult and impossible,” Gee said.

Hill believes that a light bulb went off for many of the teachers listening to Gee speak.

“Mr. Gee’s speech was phenomenal. Getting to the kids level. Reaching them with enthusiasm,” Springfield High School teacher Zach Raines said. He bases his teaching methods on the same principles conveyed in the speech.

Raines said that it’s hard to reach students when you only get to see them for 42 minutes at a time.

“You have to have a passion for it, if you can affect one student, that’s your goal every year,” he said.

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