New Central HS administrators hold listening session with parents

Want to know what someone thinks about a subject? Ask them.

That’s what new Central High School administrators John Gendron and Dale Van Keuren did with a group of about 30 parents at a listening session Monday. The session had been publicized ahead of time as open to all parents.

Gendron, district administrator, gave an overview of the district. After that, Van Keuren asked for feedback on three specific areas: What are we proud of at Central High School, what do we want to see enhanced or strengthened and what do we want graduates to look like? Participants were asked to write down their responses and then share them out loud, with Gendron writing the answers on large sheets of paper. Those who did not wish to speak were able to stick their notes on the appropriate sheets afterwards.

For the proud of question answers shared by parents included: tech ed, performing arts, forensics, business program, kids come home happy, academic standing, marketing and school store, staff accessibility, teacher communication, home economics department, kids feel safe, school spirit, aviation program, mentoring by staff, community involvement.

For areas to be enhanced question answers shared by parents included: auditorium, special education, engineering education, scheduling flexibility, more coordination with grade school staffs, more help for kids between trades and college, STEAM opportunities, examine tradition vs. progress, putting best staff with AP classes, awareness of drug issues, opportunities for advanced classes.

For what should graduates look like answers shared by parents included: well-rounded, feel confident-especially boys, have a sense of accountability, more real life skills.

Both administrators expressed admiration for the school, its students, their parents and the community in general.

“I know what a great school this is,” said Gendron, who while new to the district has lived in the area for about 20 years and has been the district administrator at two other Western Kenosha County school districts. “We have great kids here. They’re polite, they’re respectful.”

Though new to the school and the area, Van Keuren also had praise for what he has seen so far.

“There’s a really rich and deep history here,” Van Keuren said. He added that as a principal he seeks to have a symbiotic relationship between students, staff and parents.

“We are in the business of kids,” Van Keuren. “I know you know your kids better.”

As for next steps, Gendron proposed the following:

  • Building Trusting and Meaningful Partnerships and Relationships with Stakeholders.
  • Enhancing¬† Innovation for Teaching and Learning.
  • Strategic Planning.
  • Facility Study.
  • Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement.

“This is the beginning of taking a very very good school and making it a great school,” said Gendron. He added that his aspirations are not to just measure up among local schools, but to stack up well against the best schools in the state.

After the meeting, Gendron sadi he was pleased with the attendance and participation, ranking it favorably with sessions he has held at other districts. He said there would be more listening sessions, but encouraged people to come forward with ideas or concerns in the meantime.

“Don’t wait for the next time we have one of these,” Gendron said. “Please ask.”


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