Guest post by Dr. Mark Bedell, Superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools
Dr. Mark Bedell
Mark Bedell joined Kansas City Public Schools as Superintendent on July 1, 2016. He previously served as the assistant superintendent for Baltimore County Public Schools. Mark credits his love and success in basketball as a factor that motivated him to stay in school. While an honor student at Fisk University he led the nation in scoring for Division III basketball. Mark completed his doctoral dissertation at Nova Southeastern University on school culture, climate and dropout prevention for ethnic minority students from low economic strata.
Mark will join us on January 24 for our next Conversation at the Square with KCUR 89.3, Live and Learn: Neighborhoods, Education and Transformation, where a panel of education and community leaders will take a look at factors outside of the classroom that affect students’ chances of success. Schools have little or no control over many of these conditions, so we are asking Mark and the rest of the panel what schools and the community can and should be doing to improve the chances for student success.
Nurturing Real Transformation in Kansas City
Change happens when a single element is shifted; it is isolated. Transformation is the factor of many changes; it is systematic. Change is a single bud. Transformation is a tree in full spring bloom.
We seek transformation in Kansas City Public Schools.
When I took the reins as the new superintendent of KCPS last summer, I was pleased to find many people working hard to produce positive changes in our schools and neighborhoods. That’s one of the many reasons I took the job. I could see that Kansas City has a core of individuals who are deeply committed to building lasting and significant improvements.
It’s not enough to grow great schools; we must cultivate healthy communities. Our individual efforts must be inextricably intertwined if our school system and city are going to achieve the kind of progress we all envision. We must link arms to move forward together.
Many of our students and families face significant challenges every day at home that impact how we progress as a school system. It’s very tough for children to learn if they have too little to eat, have inadequate clothing, lack stable housing or fear for their safety. All these things poison the soil and strangle the young lives we’re trying to cultivate. On a very foundational level, our children require healthy communities in order to thrive.
To that end, I arrived at KCPS determined to plant and nurture a culture of 360-degree service for every student and his or her family. After spending several weeks listening to and learning from our stakeholders, I made wrap-around services an integral part of my post-entry plan.
KCPS will expand social and emotional support systems and programs for students and families across the community. We will invest in the resources necessary to equip our team members so they can identify the trauma our students face and know how to respond appropriately. We will make our schoolhouses places where all students are welcomed and valued. We know that all students have talents and gifts to offer the world, and it is our duty to find and uplift those gifts for every single child that walks through our doors.
None of this can be done by KCPS in isolation. My team and I are eager to join forces with the many other outstanding individuals and groups who are already doing great work in Kansas City. We must work together.
If we can learn to play as a team, we will have the capacity to make our students’ dreams a reality.