Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Choosing The Positive Path

Homecoming week is wrapped up, and it was AWESOME! Thank you to everyone who helped in any way with the activities that happened throughout the week. We have a great bunch of students and it was fun to see them enjoying the week. Coronation started us off on a great foot and the dress up days and FFA Ag Olympics carried us through the week to the elementary games and grill out, parade and pep rally. It was great to see our students compete in various sporting events and have some success. With it having been such a great week of positive events and fun, it got me thinking about what I have been trying to focus on as a leader for our school district and on a personal level as well.


I have been reading a couple of books lately by Jon Gordon. Jon writes about positivity in your life and the direct correlation between success and positivity. I was first led to "The Power Of Positive Leadership" from a leadership course I am taking. After reading this book I began to do a lot of self-reflection and wanted to know more about positivity and positive leadership. I came across another book by Jon Gordon called "The Energy Bus for Kids", which I purchased and read with my kids. The reading level of this book is probably middle or upper elementary, but the concepts can be explained to younger elementary students. A couple of weeks ago I chose to read this book to the 5th grade class.  The main focus of this book is making the choice, every day, to be positive and make positive choices. The choices that we make on a daily basis affect everyone around us. We can choose to take a left and head down the negative road, but we all know what that leads to. We need to take a right, focus on the positive, set positive goals, and show our positivity towards others.

While reading this book with the students it was very evident that they know what is right and what is wrong. They know that their actions can not only affect themselves, but also those around them. What this book helped drive home for me was that our students are looking to us as parents, teachers, administrators, school staff and peers for positive direction. We have the choice every day to wake up and either set our course a positive direction or negative direction. Whichever direction we choose to go will determine our successes throughout the day.

Earlier this school year I had our elementary students start this positive bus ride by setting at least one goal. Some chose to do a couple. They wrote their goal on a sticky note and placed it on a poster in the hallway outside my office. As our students walked past these goals I wanted them to be reminded of what they are working towards. Whether their goal is to "Make New Friends", "Work Hard And Never Give Up", "Get Good Grades", or "Reach 100 AR Points" they need to have a positive focus for the year. I would encourage to stop in and look at our students' goals. Ask your student what they set for a goal this year. If they didn't get one written down yet, have them add their goal to the poster.

Every single one of us, adults and students alike, have the choice to set ourselves on a course of positivity or negativity. I say that we make the effort to smile more, encourage more, set goals for ourselves, and help spread positivity throughout our school and community.

Go Trojans!


Derek Barrios
Superintendent/Elementary Principal

Friday, September 1, 2017

Talking With Students About Their Future

How do you talk with your student about his or her plans for life after graduation? 

Perhaps you share advice like this: Study hard. Get good grades. Go to college. You can do anything you set your mind to.

We all want students to do their best, so they have better opportunities for bright futures and good jobs. This school year, I want to encourage you to get more specific. Beyond offering advice, ask more questions and urge your student to think about his or her strengths and interests.
Here are some questions to consider: What do you like to do, in school and out of school? What are some of your natural strengths? What are some careers in which your interests and strengths might intersect? How do you think you might best prepare and train for those careers?

It’s never too early to start these conversations, either. Even elementary school students can learn from classroom visitors talking about their jobs or a summertime day camp focused on anything from computer coding to archaeology.

Today’s students are likely to have several careers over the course of their lives, and an ever-increasing number of jobs require education beyond high school. Simply telling them to go to college isn’t enough. Every student’s path will be unique. Students should see a university or technical institute education not as an end in itself, but as a tool for achieving their career goals.

Here are some things we are doing in our school district to help students more effectively explore and understand the career opportunities available to them: The use of SDMyLife.com (career exploration, course planning, and post-secondary information), internships, dual credit options, Employability course, Career Planning Day in Aberdeen for Juniors and Seniors every fall, NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate) exam for Juniors, and even an entrepreneurial festival "Create 'N'".  

At a conference this summer, Gov. Dennis Daugaard challenged us...instead of asking students where they are going to school, ask them what they are going to study and why? We want graduates to leave our district with clear goals in mind and a strong plan for achieving them. Here's to a great year at the Faulkton Area Schools District!

Go Trojans!


Derek Barrios
Superintendent/Elementary Principal

Monday, August 14, 2017

Excited for another year!

The summer has flown by and we find ourselves just over a week away from getting classes started again at Faulkton Area Schools District! I hope that everyone was able to enjoy a wonderful summer with family and friends.

This summer has been busy at the school as we have worked to complete the previous school year with reports, complete all the buildings and grounds projects, and also prepare for this upcoming school year. I uploaded a couple pictures at the bottom to show off a few of the projects. The pictures don't truly do it justice. Feel free to stop at the school and check out the amazing work that Janet, Bill, Denny, Jack and the many contractors have completed.

As you may have heard, we have begun a strategic planning process this summer. I am excited for this process, as it will give valuable input to myself and the board as to the direction our stakeholders see us going in the years to come. This process is not focused on any one topic. It is a general process that will help us create measurable and attainable goals for our district as we continue to improve.

Speaking of improvement. Many of our staff members have been attending all sorts of individualized professional development throughout the summer to help them become better educators for your children. Thank you to our staff for always wanting to improve and provide the best education for the students of Faulkton Area.

We are excited to welcome five new staff members this year!
- Chase Casper: Computers/Library/K-2 PE
- Mallory Fischer: Pre-School/Jr. Kindergarten
- Voni Hubbell: JH/HS English Language Arts
- Danica Mickelson: K-12 Music
- Cortney Warren: 5th Grade

This school year is set up to be great! I am looking forward to seeing all of the students back in halls and hearing how their summer was. As always, feel free to communicate with me about any questions or concerns you may have.

Go Trojans!


Derek Barrios
Superintendent/Elementary Principal

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Teamwork and Collaboration

I touched briefly on teamwork and collaboration in my October 12, 2017 post, but wanted to expand on it a bit. Recently, Mrs. Geditz's 4th grade class and Mr. Mickelson's 7th grade Social Studies class worked on a project together. Students from the classes teamed up and made presentations on the Southwest Region of the United States.
There are projects like this happening quite often in our building. What makes projects like this so successful for students and teachers are the many opportunities for growth during them. 

There may be many differences between those in our community, but I know there is common ground between us all.  Just like I had said in my October post, "I am also looking forward to continuing to improve our collaboration and teamwork with our community. The entire community plays an important role in the success of our schools and our children. The ceiling of our continued success is limitless, and involving all of our district community members, business owners, parents, staff and students is vital."  Just as these students and teachers work together to further their education and become more knowledgeable, so can all of us. I am very encouraged by what I see happening throughout our community. There are many people and organizations working hard to ensure our continued growth. The responsibility to ensure the continued and future successes of our school district rests with us all. I am proud to say that my family and I are part of such a great community, and I sincerely look forward to the things that we will be able to accomplish together. 

The last few words from our school song play in my head when I think about the teamwork, collaboration, and pride that is so evident throughout our school and community. "Firm & strong, united are we."

Go Trojans! 


Derek Barrios
Superintendent/Elementary Principal 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Student Happenings

I wanted to share a couple of things that have been happening around our school district. I know that there are many things that happen in our buildings on a daily basis that many never hear about.
In particular, in the past month I have been fortunate enough to have been part of the "Shark Tank" for Mrs. Schlechter's Business &Technology JH wheel course. Part of this quarter long course is to research and develop a new product. Then the team of students has to get "investors" for their product.  It is very encouraging to see so many of these students take pride in developing a product that can be very real some day.
Along the same lines, I was on the interview panel for Mrs. Melius' Employability/Personal Finance course. These students spend the semester learning about skills that will help them gain employment at any point in their life. At the conclusion of the semester the students have to create a resume and interview for a position in front of current business people. This is a great learning experience for many students. Being in a small town, they do not always get to experience the pressure of having to interview in front of a panel.
Back in November, Mrs. Geditz's 4th grade course took their field trip to Bill Melius' buffalo ranch. While there the students get to see a working buffalo ranch, learn about the buffalo, and even learn about life on prairie. Here are a few pictures from their trip.

I also wanted to share about a project that Mrs. Montonye does with her students at Blumengard colony. Studentreasures is an on-line program free of charge to educators.  Educators can create a book with a whole class, or individual students can write their own.  The company sends out all materials necessary to create the books, except for markers in the coloring of the pictures.  The students work very hard to create a book that they are proud of. Here are a few pictures of the finished product. 

 Thank you for taking the time to hear about some of the awesome things happening in our schools! It's always great to see things like this to give you a boost during the year. Thank you to ALL of our staff who work so hard to provide great opportunities for our students. 

Yours in Education,
Derek Barrios
Superintendent/Elementary Principal