It's So Good To Meet You!

A Blog by Dr. John Schwartz, Superintendent

The first few months of school are one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Buildings are filled with activity day and night, and the sights and sounds of school are back in our hallways. It’s the energy of eager students and parents at activities and the roar of the crowd at school athletics and events. It is also the opportunity to make a difference by pushing forward on our mission to serve students. Excellence does not come easy… it’s achieved by many daily victories and an enduring commitment to help students succeed in school and in life.

It has been so good to meet you! The start of the year has been a whirlwind of watching excellence in motion. I have been in all of our 35 schools and more than 450 of our classrooms. The identity of Millard is clear to me. We are laser-focused on students. I see it in the classroom with our dedicated staff and engaged students, in the daily district operations, and in the boardroom where policy decisions are made. Throughout, it always comes back to the same question - ‘How will this affect students and staff?’

We value people and know they are our greatest resource. Millard has an amazingly talented and dedicated staff. It has been fantastic to see them in action. We have outstanding students who strive to grow and achieve in the classroom and in activities. Their enthusiasm is contagious. The district is rooted by our families who volunteer during the school day, show up after school for events and athletics, and help us improve with their thoughts and ideas. The community support sustains us.

It all comes together for world-class outcomes. We have much to celebrate. Millard students consistently score above state and national averages on achievement tests. Our students account for forty percent of all the Nebraska semifinalists for the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program while the district has only seven percent of the state’s student population. We excel in extracurricular activities, too. Millard regularly celebrates regional and state championships. Our schools have claimed 132 NSAA State Championships to date. Perhaps most importantly and most impressively, our teachers and staff were able to keep educating students through the pandemic. Millard’s dip in learning during the height of the pandemic was substantially less than what occurred at the national level and gains in learning have been recorded on state and national assessments since then.

We also have priorities to get better. At our core, we are a learning organization, and we too, need to learn. We do that by developing and following our strategic plan, a process that has been in place for more than thirty years. The plan renews every five years, and we are currently updating it. Dozens of parents, students, teachers, and staff are coming together throughout this year to identify our critical issues so that we can be thoughtful in proactively addressing our needs and leveraging opportunities. We will continue to keep the MPS community updated as the planning process unfolds.

Thank you for the warm welcome. My family and I are so glad to be home in Millard.