Opinion

Federal Way superintendent welcomes new school year

Welcome to the 2012-13 school year!

I am sure our students are experiencing mixed emotions. They are excited about reconnecting with their friends, looking forward to meeting their new teachers, and curious about what they will learn this year. Some may wish summer vacation could continue indefinitely.

As the year begins, I am filled with excitement and pride — pride in what we’ve accomplished as a district, and excitement for the direction in which we are headed.

Federal Way Public Schools is challenging students to reach new heights, expand their foundation of knowledge and skills, and prepare for their success after high school in an increasingly competitive world.

Never has education been as important as it is now in the globally competitive economy of the 21st century. A high school diploma is the minimum our students must have to successfully transition to their next stage of life, while the benefits of post-secondary education and skills training have never been greater.

In the Puget Sound region, 67 percent of the available jobs require a post secondary degree. We are committed to equity and excellence for every one of our students, in every classroom, every day to improve every life.

Over the past two years, Federal Way Public Schools has increased student enrollment in our most rigorous academic courses, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge, by a staggering 76 percent. These classes are the most important classes students can take to ensure their success in college.

For the second year in a row, our four comprehensive high schools made the Washington Post’s High School Challenge list.  As a result, our high schools rank in the top 7 percent for high schools across the nation.

Not only are Federal Way students stepping up to the academic challenge, but they believe they possess the ability to succeed in the most demanding courses.

Last year, we took a bold step and implemented standards-based education (SBE) throughout the district. It was a challenge our education community faced together. Through various working committees and input from students, parents, staff and community members, I am excited about the SBE system improvements we are making this year. With SBE in place, not only are we expecting excellence, we have a fair and equitable way to measure progress.

In November, a capital levy will be placed on the ballot asking voters to approve funds to rebuild our flagship school, Federal Way High School. It’s a chance to create a 21st century educational environment that meets the changing needs of our students and embraces technological innovations. The levy will also improve safety on our playgrounds with new playground equipment and improve security with updated and integrated security cameras.

My family was watching the London Olympics one evening and I was struck by a Nike commercial featuring the “Find Your Greatness” campaign. The voice on the television said, “Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is reserved for the chosen few, or the superstars. The truth is, greatness is for all of us. This is not about lowering expectations, it’s about raising them for every last one of us. Because greatness is not in one special place, or one special person. Greatness is wherever someone is trying to find it.”

Federal Way students are finding their greatness every day.

I welcome back our students, parents, teachers and staff, and wish all of you an excellent school year.

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Contact Superintendent Rob Neu: rneu@fwps.org.

 

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