Thursday, January 25, 2018

Faulkton Area Schools District Strategic Plan

This past year the Faulkton School Board has been working with a firm to put together a strategic plan, sometimes referred to as an action plan, for the Faulkton Schools. This was a very in depth process that involved many of the stakeholders in our community. We started with surveying our students in grades 9-12 in the Spring of 2017. The survey focused on gathering feedback surrounding different topics in the school. Topics such as the type of homework, course offerings, fine arts/activity offerings and their overall feelings about the school. A survey was also made available to all community members during Summer of 2017. 240 surveys (electronic and paper combined) were filled out. Questions on this survey looked for feedback on strengths and areas of concern for the school district, what opportunities the district may be missing and challenges that needs to be addressed.
After the completion of the surveys, community meetings were held on a few different occasions to begin to put together overall themes that the school district needed to begin to focus on. These meetings were well attended, and provided a lot of valuable information for the creation of the action plan.
A preliminary action plan was presented at the November school board meeting. From there the plan was shared throughout the community and feedback was sought from board members, staff and community members. After meaningful discussion at board meetings, the board approved our action plan at the January 2018 school board meeting.
I commend our school board for making a commitment to set a clear direction for the Faulkton Area School District. This strategic plan not only provides clear direction and measurable goals, but will hold administration, staff and school board members accountable for the continued success and improvement of our school district.  I encourage you to take a look over the strategic plan and contact me if you have any questions regarding the plan. The plan can be found at this link on our school website,, or in the superintendent's office as well.

Go Trojans!


Derek Barrios
Superintendent/Elementary Principal

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New Year, A New Challenge

Yes, it is true, we have officially started the second semester of school here at Faulkton Area Schools District. The first semester went quick, and things may not have gone as well as your students may have anticipated, but the good news is, they have another semester to learn from possible mistakes that were made and finish the school year strong. In my morning announcements before Christmas break, I shared with students and staff that "With a new year comes new challenges and new opportunities for growth." It just so happens that with this new year, our staff were given opportunities for growth before heading back to the classrooms.

On Wednesday, January 3rd, Faulkton held an all day staff in-service with the Redfield and Ipswich School Districts. We had staff from all three school districts volunteer to present on educational topics, as well as Dakota State University faculty. This is opportunity for a joint in-service was great and our staff embraced the opportunity for growth. Our morning keynote was given by Corinne Hoisington that day, and she gave a couple of breakout sessions as well. Corinne presented on new educational resources that are available to improve the teaching happening in the classroom. She shared a lot about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, and how we can expand what we offer our students in the classroom, even being in rural South Dakota.

Another topic she presented was on "Emerging Career Trends". It was very interesting to hear what the actual job outlook is for our students. We have many students throughout the United States that are choosing majors and professions that have a very bleak job outlook. As educators and parents, we need to ensure that we are preparing our students for realistic jobs in the future. Some of the most popular majors are Exercise Science, Small Animal Veterinary, and Psychology, and they have the WORST job outlook. Believe it or not, the careers with the BEST job outlook are in the fields of Data Science, Data Engineer, Analytics Manager, and many others.  I do not recall hearing of these when I was considering a career path.  In light of this, we need to shift our message to our students about their future careers and expose them to new avenues.  It may seem as though their future employment is "forever" away, but it is closer than we think. A complete Top 50 list can be found here:,20.htm.

As we begin a the New Year, I challenge us to look for new opportunities for growth in our own lives. It is easy to stay comfortable on the path we are on, but exploring new paths can lead to growth for ourselves and those around us. If we are stagnant we will become obsolete. Let's work towards becoming/staying relevant, even when it is not easy to do so.

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 (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