Thursday, November 9, 2017


Principal “Reflections & Projections”

Ensuring a positive climate which enhances teaching and learning every day every block. Not interfering with teaching and learning. Hiring great teachers to assure that each student has an equal opportunity to learn. Helping students succeed any way we can, but yet keeping each student accountable for doing the work. Having high expectations for the students. Having high expectations for staff. All of this leads to successfully preparing students for their future – being college and/or career ready.

We are fortunate that the Spearfish community supports a strong education system. K-12 is strong here because it is supported and expected to be strong. Post-secondary is strong thanks to Black Hills State University. Relationships between SHS and BHSU enhances what we provide to students. The students at SHS are fortunate. No one can, or will, argue that.

At Spearfish High School we believe that students should have the opportunity to experience the full breadth of the curriculum during the college and career preparation process. We also want the students to be able to individualize their choices as they “figure out” what they want to pursue in the post-secondary setting. That creates a delicate blend of curricular offerings. Weighing what we need to provide on a yearly basis.

As we prepare for the learning process in any new school year, we are tasked with redefining what that education must look like. Attempting to meet the needs of the majority of the students. We must do what is necessary to enhance and drive engagement in each class. Prioritizing what is and what is not important to our student body.

Allowing students the flexibility to pursue their passion must blend with meeting the standards for overall academic success. A well rounded core curriculum makes that happen. We must also encourage students to engage in the educational opportunities outside of the classroom. Internships will become more and more important as we continue to strive to provide what our students need.

Great teachers are the key. Great teachers are inspired and passionate. Great teachers have high expectations. Great teachers use data and evidence to support and enhance instruction. Great teachers are student centered. Great teachers differentiate instruction. Great teachers give effective feedback. All of those qualities equal great learning, progress and achievement for all SHS students. 

To assure we are meeting the needs of our students. Everyone should receive regular and timely feedback. That is an emphasis this year. Teachers are spending more time studying data, we now need to assure we are sharing that information with both students and adults.

SHS wants a 100% completion rate. Few, if any, schools our size reach that goal. Many would be satisfied with the 95.5% indicator rating on the latest SHS state report card. We are not. We strive for 100%.

We can do a better job of identifying at-risk students. We can provide better interventions based on the needs of those students. We can enhance the programs in place to provide at-risk students with adult mentors. We can strengthen the bonds of attachment between our students and school offerings. (Both curricular and extra-curricular)  We can do a better job of involving the community.

Parents need to be an important part of this process. All parents want their children to succeed. All parents look towards educators for expertise. Most parents will reinforce what the educator emphasizes as being important. Unfortunately, all parents don’t do that. The parents who do realize that they are not educators and truly don’t know where to begin support in a way that enhances the educational process are the most vital to the success of any educational system.

It is crucial for schools to have parent support. It is crucial that parents become good partners in planning and advocacy to support the education of their student.

The SHS doors are always open to parents. Come check out the great things that teachers are doing with our youth. It might just surprise you! Teachers tend to have this philosophy – “A paycheck is given to people who show up, opportunities are given to people who work beyond what they are paid to do.”  We have been given the opportunity to work with youth and we cherish it.

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.” ~Zig Ziglar

Until next time,
Steve Morford
Principal – Spearfish High School