SOUTH WHITLEY, IN -- A "community school" is certainly a place where students from the community earn their education, but when everyone comes together that's when a "community school" can become much more.
Recent changes in Whitko Community Schools' Central Office have paved the way for new staff including a new Superintendent, new Director of Curriculum & Special Services, and new Treasurer. Naturally, with that, come new opportunities to build relationships within the community.
As a result, Superintendent Dr. Brandon Penrod has been increasing his efforts to include the most important element into the conversation, the voices of Whitko Nation. Whitko's most recent campaign urging those within the school district to "Join A Committee" has been an important push for Penrod and the Whitko School Board.
The idea for the campaign began during a School Board Work Session in February just before Valentine's Day. A whiteboard session involving the Superintendent, School Administrators, and School Board Members, as well as community members in attendance, birthed an idea that has it's own web address, business cards, and even a Lunch & Learn event beginning within the agricultural communities of Pierceton and South Whitley.
February 21st, Penrod and his staff, Principals from each of Whitko's locations, and the Whitko FFA Chapter hosted the Lunch & Learn inside The Brownstone on State Rd 5. In the heart of town, Penrod and his team hoped to garner relationships which are crucial to a community school.
"When everyone in our school system comes together, we are more than education, we're a community," said Penrod.
He went on to explain the importance of intertwining the school's leadership and the community's leadership. Within the school's borders are the multifaceted voices of the community he hopes to incorporate into the conversation. The local agricultural leaders at Whitko are just one of the many important voices he is excited to hear.
Among the more immediate relationships Penrod and the School Board will be looking to engage are citizens with interests that may align within committees currently being formed. Those committees include: curriculum, finance, staff engagement, community engagement, Advo-Cats, and as interest builds more committees will likely be added to the list.
Whitko's next Lunch & Learn event will be March 14th at the Pierceton Presbyterian Church on Hwy 13, just north of Pierceton Elementary School. It will mirror the event hosted earlier in February, and give those within the agricultural community a chance to receive Wildcat hospitality and appreciation for their support of the school district.