Minnesota Ambassador Shares Out of School Data

Elmer Koch

Elmer Koch shared MN “Students Not in School” Data at the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA)  annual convention (MESPA INSTITUTE, February 5-7).  Here’s how he made it happen!

This MESPA Institute is and has been the premier professional development opportunity for our MN principals.  As part of this year’s schedule they tried an innovative idea of offering one set of short (1/2 hour) sessions, built in alongside of the usual longer breakouts. This happened one afternoon for the purpose of  focusing and highlighting a few unique and/or informational topics. 

I was able to be booked into one of these sessions to present the information regarding the mission and data of WEF-USA.  I encouraged the attendees to join me with a message in the conference program and invited them to bring their devices to access the internet. 

Thus, we had a very productive and intimate session as I was able to have participants sign on to the WEF-USA website after a brief background of the mission and general composite data.  This was intentional so they could become familiar with what info the site had and then look at the data by the three breakdowns:  state, county, school district.  I felt this was productive as the principals would be most interested in the data for their own county and district.  Then as a follow up, they could examine other entries for comparison. 

This approach stimulated the usual questions for a nice round table discussion among participants,

             Why isn’t someone doing something? 

            What can/should be done to find them and get them enrolled? 

             Where are these children? 

While not having time to brainstorm answers, I challenged the participants to become our agents and share the data with others in their districts and begin some dialog that might address the questions and begin to explore some action steps.  As expected, the initial reaction to the data was shock!  Curiosity built as they reviewed the data at the various levels, and I felt we had energized the attendees to pursue some action back home. 

This 30-minute block proved a great way to create the interest and involvement since each person was using their own laptop or tablet to find the data of most interest to them.  And, since they accessed the website for themselves, the screen was their focal point and not me as a speaker. 

I enjoyed being able to participate in the MESPA INSTITUTE  as a retiree from our great association, and to give back as a volunteer and contribute to the overall professional development of our members.

If this triggers any further questions on your part or you want more details, let me know.  Glad I was able to take one more communication step as the Minnesota Ambassador!

            Elmer Koch