As State Superintendent, Kirsten Baesler has committed to empowering the voice of public education’s number one customer – the student. “I was thrilled to learn that the West Fargo school district has followed this example and embraced the input of their young people,” said Kirsten.
Throughout the past three years, the West Fargo school district has held listening sessions between the school board and their students and graduates. These sessions were positively received by both students and school leadership. “Since this has been [the Board’s] approach in the past, having students as part of the superintendent search process was an obvious component for us to include in the interview itinerary,” said Heather Konschak, the district’s public relations coordinator.
The school board solicited participation from students in grades 5-12. Students were recommended by the Administrative Leadership Team and parents. “We did not want to limit our student participation to just those from National Honor Society, Student Council, or other like groups…we wanted to cast a broad net, with the hopes of receiving interest from various student groups in our district,” shared Konschak.
Jacob Anderson, a student who participated in the process, had this to say of his experience: “As I served on this panel, I realized the great opportunity it was and how much WFPS values student voice. In the end, the West Fargo Public School District led by example, showing that students are their top priority by involving us in such an important process.”
16 students participated in the process. The students were provided an opportunity to ask questions of each finalist. After each interview session concluded, the students shared their feedback through a brief survey that measured the candidates’ demonstration of six critical qualities. Two students then attended a Board meeting to share their perspective directly.
Konschak elaborated on the motivation for including students by saying, “we wanted the students to have a say in their next leader…we wanted each of our candidates to know that WFPS is a student-centered district and we wanted our Board to have as many perspectives as possible when making this critical decision.”
“I commend West Fargo Public Schools on their decision to include students in this process and I would encourage other districts to follow their lead,” said Baesler.