By Dustin Shipman BSSD Superintendent

“The Ram’s Horn” is a regular column by Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman, offering news and insight from the district.

Greetings from the superintendent’s office.

Our students celebrated the 100th day of school this week, and as I witnessed their celebrations I also had the opportunity to reflect on the first 100 days of my tenure at the Big Sky School District.

In nearly every interview I’ve been involved with, both as candidate and as employer, the inevitable question arises: “What would be your plan for the first 100 days on the job?”

BSSD has witnessed some great things in the last 100 days. We’ve moved into a new school and, while it’s still unfinished, Ophir elementary is starting to take on a life and culture of its own. The hallways and classrooms are establishing identities and the children’s spirit is more prevalent in all venues in the school.

Additionally, we’ve launched an ambitious and aggressive strategic plan. It seems long ago, however in the last 100 days, we interviewed and hired a consultant; gathered 730 responses to a representative survey and collated that data; had a significant strategic planning retreat; conducted focus groups; revised and finally passed the plan at the board level; and began implementation.

This work has set the tone for the district moving forward and so far the initial implementations of the plan have proven positive.

As part of that plan, we’ve begun moving toward authorization of the International Baccalaureate program. And in the last month we’ve accomplished significant steps toward our goals including sending a group of seven teachers and administrators to IB training in Vancouver, Canada.

IB trainings are popular in North America and hard to find, so we’re exhausting every venue we can in order to make this happen for our teachers and our students. The training is centered on assessment and course modeling for the programs at the high school and elementary levels, respectively.

Each of our teachers had daylong training recently in project-based learning and inquiry-based instruction. Both are going to be key teaching and learning strategies as the school year moves beyond the first 100 days and onto the next decade of excellence.

In 100 days we’ve also exposed our kids to musicians from all over the world and held a spelling bee; made the playoffs in football and had 100 percent acceptance to a postsecondary option for our seniors; taken art students on a retreat and hosted the NPR radio show “From The Top”; created a track team and made the district tournament in volleyball.

We’ve sent the yearbook to the publisher and hosted art café, while producing a student radio play, starting a robotics club, and launching a district Facebook page. And we’re providing students with a great education day in and day out.

The celebration of 100 days of school gave me time to reflect, and the thought that resonates with me is, I can’t wait for the next 100!