Future Ready initiative is here and now

Tahoma Superintendent Rob Morrow joked with a room full of educators and community members last week as he used an illustration about Apple to explain the district’s Future Ready initiative.

“I just sold you a computer, didn’t I?”

Tahoma Superintendent Rob Morrow joked with a room full of educators and community members last week as he used an illustration about Apple to explain the district’s Future Ready initiative.

It went something like this: most companies and organizations think what, then how, then why. But companies like Apple, Morrow said, think why, then how, then what. In Apple’s case the “why” of innovation and creativity create a consequence, or “what”, of great computers and devices. For Tahoma the “why” of, “all students have the skills and experiences to create a viable, valued path to lifelong personal success” — the district’s mission statement — leads to a “what” or consequence of students earning diplomas.

“When they (students) walk across the stage we don’t want to just hand them a diploma, but a future as well,” Morrow said. “That, my friends, is Future Ready.”

The event at which Morrow was speaking was part professional development for the group of Tahoma teachers and administrators and part formal launch of the district’s Future Ready vision. Also present were members of the community, including business and civic leaders. The idea was to present the ideas the district has been refining and putting into place over the last several years to a wider swath of the community.

Morrow explained the idea and discussions that would become Future Ready began between three and four years ago at Tahoma High School. As the vision for the new Tahoma High School was born and took off with the passage of the district’s construction bond, district administrators continued to examine content and programs in light of the district’s pending realignment.

The crux of Future Ready is that by the time they graduate, students have a goal and the skills to make it happen, Morrow said.

Also a part of the event was a panel that included Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue VanRuff, Boeing’s Director of Strategic Workforce Planning Duane Shireman, Maple Valley City Manager David Johnston, Tahoma High student Jayaram Ravi and school board President  Mary Jane Glaser. Each panelist spoke about their perspective on Future Ready.

“The Future Ready skills are dead on,” Shireman said. He explained that he looks for people who know how to learn, who are balanced and who are accountable for decisions and the future.

Johnston spoke about the evolving vision for Maple Valley’s future and the development possibilities in the Donut hole and the opportunity that the new high school in the Donut Hole, and future development of the rest of the Donut Hole land, bring to the city.

“We have exciting opportunities because everything in coming together,” Johnston said. “This is one of the top cities to raise children and families and we have to keep working on it.”

Glaser spoke about the progress the district has made since the ‘90s and on how the board views their role as supporting teachers and student learning.

“It’s just so exciting to know how we have come together as a system,” Glaser said.

Also in the works this year is revitalizing the Tahoma Schools Foundation.

“It’s actually been around for along time but it’s been sort of dormant,” Tahoma Spokesman Kevin Patterson said. “It’s a fundraising organization and efforts are being made this year to really revive it.”

The foundation, which is an independent nonprofit run by community members, has traditionally been used to fund extracurricular related trips and activities for students, like We the People traveling to nationals or travel by the robotics team members for competitions. Patterson said that the foundation will be doing a fund drive this fall.

In closing, Morrow said that everyone in the community has to ask themselves two questions: where do they fit in to the Future Ready vision and how do they contribute.

“We’ve climbed a pretty good hill here in Tahoma,” Morrow said. “Lets look for the next hill to climb.”