Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis and Kentucky Board of Education chairman Hal Heiner visited the Graves County school district June 26.
Superintendent Kim Dublin hosted the two and staff members who accompanied them in visiting Graves County Middle and High schools, along with those two schools’ principals. The group also visited the Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center, where its principal, Mike Miller, and Mayfield Superintendent Joe Henderson joined Dublin in welcoming the visitors and other invited guests.
Graves County Middle School students’ presentations addressed their activities, including 4-H students who won the Kentucky Future City competition, in which they created solutions to specific problems cities face, replete with a model of their proposed city. Others presented their essays on personal adventures. Choir director Elaine Mitchell led her students in both singing and unique drumming.
Both middle and high school students explained how students use Chromebooks and how designated students service those devices.
Sgt. Bruce Kernodle led high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students, as those students explained their program, ranging from learning military protocol and leadership to the unit’s participation in military team competitions, known as Raider Games.
WGCE-TV teacher Josh Heisner and his students showed the group their studio, explained their programming and even demonstrated their broadcasting skills.
Strings teacher Laura Hill’s students performed classical music and shared examples of the group’s role as musical ambassadors, including their performance at the United Nations in New York.
Graves High agriculture teachers Richard Horn and Kelvin Howard and their students shared descriptions of a number of aspects of their program, including their livestock barn, FFA achievements and efforts to explain farming to elementary school students.
Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center principal Mike Miller introduced a number of his school’s graduates, who shared their enjoyment of hands-on learning, marketable skills they learned at the ATC, and both post-secondary education and employment opportunities they’re successfully pursuing.
“This morning’s visit was fantastic,” said Heiner. “The students and their presentations proved to me once again that students are capable of so much more than we often believe, as adults. So, we heard from students today who I know will go on to do great things in life. They gave presentations that even adults – people who have graduated college – might give at those kinds of levels.
“The world is in the midst of a large change, right now, becoming much more technical. Low-skill jobs essentially are being replaced by automation. There’s much more focus on thinking abilities – the ability to work at higher levels, levels that often require credentials – associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees – and our role in education. I believe the most noble purpose for adults is preparing our young people really to take over out here in the near future. To prepare them for that, we continue to rethink education and better prepare our students with those higher-level thinking skills.”
Lewis agreed that it’s important for education to keep up with the changing needs of the workforce.
“One of the points I wanted to make really clear is our economy has changed so much and is changing so much that it’s necessary for us to take a hard look at what we’re doing in public education,” Lewis said. “We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prepare kids for success. Now, it’s essential that we do that while still maintaining who we are.
“And so, here at Graves County today, what’s really loud and clear and on display is incredible leadership, passion, expertise on the part of teachers, great culture, relationships between students and staff and all of those things are non-negotiables. We have to find ways, as they have, to keep all those things, while making changes on things that are necessary to provide kids the type of learning opportunities that they will need to be successful.”
Paul Schaumburg is the community relations director for Graves County schools.