The Northland Business and Education Alliance (NEBA) heard an update from one of the largest school districts in Greater Kansas City and discussed challenges facing all Northland schools.
Meeting at Gladstone iWerx, members first heard from Dr. Dan Clemens, superintendent of the North Kansas City School District, the largest district in Greater Kansas City on the Missouri side. Clemens shared several trends facing nearly all schools.
“We’re dramatically changing the way our high school students learn,” he said. “Many of the people in this room are a big part of that.”
Clemens especially noted institutions of higher learning like Maple Woods that offer programs for high school students and businesses that are making internships and other opportunities available. These and other trends are expanding learning opportunities beyond traditional pre-college curriculum.
“Students now have all kinds of opportunities,” Clemens said, adding that the district now has 475 business partners. Other new efforts include the district’s Catalyst Program which helps low-income students with high academy ability to access some of the nation’s top colleges.
Brett Kisker, executive director of the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Training, stated a key reason for the goal of broader learning opportunities: “We have 25,000 students in Clay and Platte counties,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves, what are we doing to keep our students here after they graduate?”
A major challenge facing schools is teacher shortage. He said the largest single issue involves the lack of women returning to the job market following the COVID pandemic. Salary increases, virtual learning and other changes are helping but have not solved all the problems.
Other topics included information from several districts and education initiatives, including Dave Johnson, coordinator of the Metropolitan Community College Fire Academy. Rich Groves, director of the North Kansas City Business Council, said that Global Entrepreneurship Week-Kansas City will be based at iWerx in North Kansas City and feature several Northland satellite locations Nov. 14-20.