Another successful school year comes to an end

By Mary Vagner

Last week, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District closed another positive and successful school year educating the children of our community. I am so proud of the excellence of our staff and students. The high quality of our staff translates to high-quality schools for our children in a high-quality community that supports public schools.
Our teachers were on the leading edge with the implementation of rigorous curriculum, and our students successfully met the many challenges of this implementation. Our staff and students were successfully engaged in extracurricular activities and community service. Throughout the year, various schools, faculty and students were recognized as leaders by outside organizations such as the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Reports, National Merit Scholarship Program, U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and Rotary. Monthly, the District 25 Education Foundation, in partnership with McDonalds, recognized students for character, attitude, kindness and encouragement shown toward others. Through the PASS (Perfect Attendance Spells Success) Program sponsored by Brown’s Insurance Agency, 75 of our fifth-grade students earned a bike for perfect attendance. Numerous athletic teams won several state championships and several academic state championships. Providing a well-rounded educational experience for our students is one of our top priorities, and we have done that.
Our board of trustees recently had the pleasure of seeing many years of strategic planning and continuous improvement come to fruition with the graduation of 866 students from our high schools. After many years of student attention to progressive instruction and nurturing by teachers, coupled with parental support, students successfully completed their courses of study and graduated prepared to enter higher education, the military or the workforce.
Our school district is high functioning and believes in success for all students. We focus on the needs of all students and on continuous improvement. Each year, our district and each school remain focused on measurable outcomes to ensure we are providing children with the best education possible. We measure our progress monthly through benchmarking and consistently assess student learning.
From preschool to 12th grade, teachers assist all children to learn what they need to know and be able to do at every grade level. They help all children develop the capacity to build positive relationships with their peers, and they help all children build the capacity to be successful in life. Our district evaluates student success formally and informally throughout the school year and examines the evidence of such to improve practices for the next year.
Our district successfully actualizes its vision, mission and beliefs. Last week’s graduation was the culminating event of another successful year. Our graduation rate is nearly 92 percent and exceeds state and national averages. Nearly 30 percent of our 2015 graduating class earned a 3.6 grade point average or higher, and 132 graduated with highest honors earning a 4.0 or better GPA while taking honors, dual credit and Advanced Placement coursework. In fact, 62 percent of our students earned 3,530 dual credit hours this year in subjects such as English, Spanish, math, biology and geology. In addition, they earned more than $23 million in scholarships from colleges and universities throughout the United States. They competed with students across the country for these scholarships and are prepared to meet the challenges of the increased rigor of post-secondary education and other post-secondary opportunities.
I have enjoyed being your superintendent for the last nine years. The safety and academic success of all children has been my No. 1 priority. Through the district’s leadership team, during the course of the last nine years, we have systemically improved the learning of all children, have increased the culture of safety and respect within our schools and have worked tirelessly to deliver to the community the best school district in the state of Idaho. As I close out a 45-year career in education with 27 years as a school superintendent, my nine years with the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District have been the best years of my career. The district will continue its pursuit of “Maximizing learning for all students through rigor, relevancy and relationships whatever it takes.” Thank you for your support of educational excellence in our community.

Mary M. Vagner is superintendent of Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25.