Communication Series Part 1
January 16, 2022
Part 1. Current State of Performance in Knob Noster Public Schools
Dear Knob Noster Public Schools Families and Community:
In his best-selling book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, author Jim Collins states, “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
Knob Noster Public Schools continues to chart its course down the path from good to great. With 70% of our students being military-connected to Whiteman AFB, our district is embracing its opportunity…and responsibility…to emerge as a great district in serving all students, with an emphasis on our unique military-student population. While all students are unique, military students change schools on average eight or more times during their K-12 matriculation. With these transitions comes a host of challenges, ranging from social-emotional needs, to obstructed academic progression, to stress related to their parent’s employment…and in many cases…their deployment. In Knob Noster, we have specialized in responding to these needs, and our district continues to be recognized nationally for our performance year after year.
In KNPS, development of quality character, citizenship, and patriotism in all students is a top priority. Over the last several years, the district has implemented the Panthers R.O.C.K character education program and more recently The Leader In Me program, both of which focus on development of students and adults who demonstrate citizenship, service, compassion, and respect for self and others, among many other qualities. In addition, the district has deployed a number of programs from the Military Child Education Coalition, including Student 2 Student, which was recently awarded the top program in the nation by the First Lady of the United States. All these programs have helped strengthen the culture of our schools in ways that specifically support the developmental needs of all students.
Academically speaking, our district has been at a sprint recently to enhance opportunities for students. Powered by nearly $5 million dollars in Department of Defense grants over the last six years, the district has added or expanded programs in: Robotics, Cybersecurity, Aviation, Computer Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing, Advanced Placement, and Dual Credit. Prior to COVID, the district took its programs virtual, offering 100% online education for all grades. Our community witnessed this program flex over the last two years to meet the needs of all learners during the COVID-19 crisis.
In each of these academic areas, the district continues to see students rise to the opportunity, embrace the challenge, and reach enhanced levels of achievement. Our students regularly place at or near the top of local, state, and national competitions in numerous areas. In 2019, 2020, and again in 2021, Knob Noster High School was named the # 1 rural high school in Missouri for College and Career Readiness by US News and World Report and posted its most competitive composite ACT score in the last decade in 2021. In its recent inaugural study on quality of education, the U.S. Air Force ranked Whiteman AFB NUMBER ONE out of all 154 installations in the country. Standing behind that recognition were the KNPS students and teachers who take pride in achieving excellence.
Extracurricular wise, the district continues to expand opportunities as well. Over the last few years, we have added soccer, cross country, golf, women’s wrestling, KN Sport Shooting Club, JROTC Raiders, Cyber Patriot, and all five families of FIRST Robotics programs. Across the board, our students are excelling in these new opportunities! In addition, we continue to see competitive levels of performance in our traditional activities, with historically strong performances being seen in Band, Softball, Football, and Basketball during the last several years. For the first time in history, Knob Noster placed first overall in team sports in the Missouri River Valley Conference in 2019-2020.
As a result of new opportunities, new partnerships, and subsequent outcomes, Knob Noster Public Schools has been awarded the Pete Taylor National Partnership of Excellence Award by the Military Child Education Coalition three of the last five years. As a result of the district’s many accomplishments, we have seen our student enrollment climb nearly 15% (200 students) in the last four years….and it continues to grow daily.
In May 2020, Knob Noster Public Schools’ Board of Education voted to approve the creation of the Little Wingmen Preschool Program to serve Knob Noster and Whiteman AFB students, ages three and four. The district received a $1 million DoDEA grant to support this program startup in 2020.
As described above, Knob Noster Public Schools is on a path from good to great, but we have much room and great opportunities to improve. Next week’s article will discuss how the quality of education has become the top priority for mission readiness and quality of life in our Armed Services and what that means for our school and community.
On behalf of the KNPS team and our 1900 students, thank you for your time in reviewing this communication series. As always, my door is open to you and our community if you would like more information. Knob Noster Public Schools – Our Mission Is Student Success!
Jerrod Wheeler, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools