Miami Trace ‘State of the District’ wrap-up

By Martin Graham -

Editor’s note: This is the fifth part of a series covering the Miami Trace Local School District’s annual “State of the District” address.

The Miami Trace Local School District held its second-annual State of the District address online recently to provide updates to the community, including information from the athletic director and both parent and student representatives to the Strategic Planning Committee.

One of the presenters during the address was Miami Trace Athletic Director Aaron Hammond, who discussed the role athletics play in the district’s school culture and the community at large.

“Athletic programs help to support the educational, physical, mental and social development of its participants,” Hammond said during his presentation. “Participation in athletics helps to support the academic missions of schools. Athletics are an extension of the classroom and those who participate tend to have higher grade point averages, better attendance and fewer disciplinary problems then the general student population.”

Hammond said that participation in athletics also helps to provide valuable lessons and skills for practical situations such as, “Working together as a team, hard work and fair play.” Student-athletes — according to Hammond — learn self-discipline, build self-confidence and develop skills to handle competitive situations.

“These skills help each student-athlete become responsible adults and positive contributors in the communities where they live,” Hammond said. “While opportunities exist for the continuation of an athletic career in the college and professional ranks, less than 1 percent of all high school student-athletes will be able to earn a living through athletics. Far more athletes are able to make a positive contribution on the world around them by relying on the lessons learned through participation in middle school and high school.”

Wrapping up the address were three representatives of the Strategic Planning Committee — one parent representative, Jill Cottrill, and two student representatives, Kandice Mathews and Drew Black.

As previously reported, Miami Trace created a strategic plan that incorporates large goal areas, strategies, action steps and a timeline to monitor progress. Currently, the plan holds a number of strategies depending on which aspect the district is dealing with at a given time. In relation to teaching and learning, the strategies are to meet the individual needs of all students and create opportunities for students to identify career field connections. In relation to the district culture, the district’s strategies are committing to supporting the students’ social, emotional and mental health needs as well as utilizing multiple methods of communication in order to inform and initiate discussion with the Miami Trace community.

As part of the final portion of the online address, questions were asked to the representatives. Cottrill — who has three children in the district — was the first of these representatives to speak during the address.

As a parent, what do you see as the benefit of the district using the strategic plan?

“As a parent I feel that the strategic plan has great benefits,” Cottrill said. “It allows the district to set a foundation of goals that the district would like to obtain. It is a five-year plan so that it is a gradual plan. It is not a plan that we create today and implement tomorrow, there is a lot of thoughtful work, time and consideration that goes into the plan. It covers a broad area of aspects in our district from transportation to communication to safety and community involvement. (The plan) allows our district to be well-rounded.”

How would you describe your participation on the strategic planning committee?

“I served as a parent representative for the strategic planning committee,” Cottrill said. “Several meetings were conducted where we devised the plan along with action items and a timeline to complete these action items for the district.”

What excites you about the future at Miami Trace Local School District?

“I feel that as a parent the open lines of communication are very important and I feel the district takes that into consideration,” Cottrill said. “For example at the start of our school year this year, each parent received a survey asking our thoughts and views on the restart for our school year. With everything going on in our country with the pandemic, we were given a plan A, B and C model. I feel that is extremely vital. Our administration did not make a sole decision on what they felt, they considered the views of our families and the best interests of our children. I also feel that the state of the art facilities and the accommodations that come with that are extremely exciting for our district. I feel that as a district we will be able to continue to provide the fundamentals for a wonderful education that will prepare all of our kids for the future.”

Finally, Miami Trace High School juniors Mathews and Black also were asked several questions during the address.

What did you learn from your experience serving on the strategic planning committee?

“I learned about the amount of time and thought staff members in our district put into our education so that we can have the best learning environment possible,” Mathews said. “Also I learned how people in our district look at every angle and are willing to talk through all of the concerns regarding a topic in order to try and meet the needs of all the students in the district.”

“It was extremely eye-opening to serve on the strategic planning committee as a student,” Black said. “I learned how much work goes into planning every aspect of running the district. I always knew it took a lot of work, but was not aware of how much time and effort was needed to make the Miami Trace district what it is. It was interesting to hear all of the committee members’ viewpoints and ideas concerning our district. I was honored to be chosen to be a part of such an important committee and to give a student’s perspective.”

What is your favorite thing about being at Miami Trace?

“My favorite thing about being at Miami Trace is being part of a community that provides its students with the tools necessary to grow into better people inside and outside of the classroom,” Mathews said. “Our district is lucky enough to have advanced technology that has immensely improved and given us resources that further advances our education. The staff truly cares about every student and are willing to help them in any way they can.”

“My favorite thing about being at Miami Trace is the close-knit community we have within the school district,” Black said. “The teachers and staff are supportive, kind and caring. They make connections with their students during their time at Miami Trace and even beyond that. Many are seen at sporting events and other activities cheering for former students. Their compassion for their students never wavers.”

The information in this article was provided by Miami Trace Local Schools.

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 463-9684 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.

By Martin Graham