July 7, 2016
This week’s show concerns creating opportunity for every student and finding ways to engage communities that may not necessarily be directly engaged with our schools. Our guest is Dr. Jeffrey Butts, superintendent of the Wayne Township School in Indiana. He has been a teacher, an athletic director, a principal, and assistant superintendent.
Dr. Butts is a third generation educator, and when he was thinking about his own future and becoming a teacher, his father and family members illustrated to him the power of education. Public education was designed as a way to truly provide opportunities for all as a servant, to make a true difference.
Ben Davis University High School is a program that Dr. Butts helped to create. When students graduate from the high school they receive an Associate’s Degree and significant college credit in order to attend a four year school. The school is designed to serve first generation college graduates. They have had a 100% graduation rate over the past five years and it is all completely free for every student at Ben Davis University High School.
25% of our residents in Wayne Township have students in our schools, but 75% do not. For those families and community members who do not have a direct connection to our schools, we need to get boots on the ground, not necessarily via social media. Attending PTO meetings, partnering with Senior Living Communities around the town, showing up to pancake breakfast and engaging the community who don’t necessarily see all that our schools are doing. Dr. Butts gives out VIP passes for any and all school events in the arts, and in athletics all year, free of charge. There are a lot of stories that people can tell about our schools and students. If we do not actively tell our stories, the community will never have an accurate view of our students. Additionally, mail still works. While Wayne Township doesn’t send a multi-page flyer, they send a postcard that shows students engaged in learning and development. It illustrates what is happening better than words and communicates to the entire community.
Having all of the resources available for every school and every student, all the strings off the budget. To have more adults, teachers, programs/programming that remove barriers for students to give them access to all the resources to help them grow as people, citizens and students.
The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
Follow Dr. Butts on Twitter @waynetwpsuper