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Kalispell gets bold with transformational learning initiative

by Daily Inter Lake
| April 3, 2022 12:00 AM

Kalispell Public Schools is encouraging the community to think big and paint outside the lines as it embarks on a multi-year journey to reassess “how school is done.”

It’s a daring proposition for any field entrenched in doing things a certain way because “that’s how we’ve always done it” — much less one that is beholden to the confines of governmental bureaucracy. Nonetheless, Superintendent Micah Hill is boldly leading the district into these uncharted waters with the noble goal of revamping the future of learning in Kalispell.

The sky’s the limit, Hill said last month in prodding community input for the transformational learning initiative. If all sideboards are removed — funding, space, time, rules — how could teaching and learning be improved, streamlined or simply made more fun.

“Maybe you don’t have to spend 180 days in a seat to be proficient,” Hill questioned.

Is year-round school a viable option? Does classroom time have to be seven hours a day, five days a week? What if there were no longer any desks? Would increased physical fitness opportunities help address classroom focus and behavioral challenges? Should there be more emphasis on hands-on training off campus?

These are just a sample of worthy discussion points that were lobbed onto the district’s blank canvas during kickoff brainstorming sessions at the elementary and middle school levels. There were no right or wrong suggestions, just a free flow of ideas.

It’s refreshing to see the district take this everything-is-on-the-table approach while pushing the conversation outside the board room and administrative offices. Too often these discussions are held within a groupthink setting, where creativity is stifled by a singular perspective.

Input from a wide swath of teachers, parents, students and community leaders will be key to eventually landing on proposals that can realistically be put into action.

At the very least, the initiative is a valuable exercise in challenging school leaders to consider alternative approaches to education, and we encourage other districts to follow School District 5’s lead.

If you care about public education and its direct impact on Kalispell, get involved in these discussions now. The future of learning depends on your input. And who knows, you might just have the next great idea that transforms “how school is done” better.