Never in their wildest dreams did they expect to have so many people coming forward.
That’s the reaction of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) to the initial step in their first ever division-wide online survey that wrapped up earlier this week.
The school division has been searching for ways to have parents and the community more involved and engaged in how students are taught along with other school activites, but no one can believe how successful the ThoughtExchange process would be.
ThoughtExchange is a B.C.-based company with expertise in community engagement while also providing data and research information for their clients. WCPS hired the company on a three-year contract to see if the company’s help would improve a tepid response to past opportunities.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this and we had heard good things about it, but we still weren’t sure about it so we also added in a strong promotion of the survey in a variety of media tools. We are over the moon with how it has gone,” explained WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell.
“We have had about 600 parents and 450 staff provide responses to go with the very strong feedback of close to 4,500 individual thoughts in this first step.”
That first step saw respondents provide ideas or suggestions (called ‘thoughts’) to three questions. Parents could answer the survey through an email that was sent to them, specific to the school they have children attending, which meant there could be multiple responses if they had children in various schools.
Lovell added administration had the ability to track the number and category of those responding, on an on-going basis, which allowed them to see just who was and wasn’t participating.
“Being able to track the responses, by each school, as the survey progressed and getting that breakdown of how many staff, parents, students and those in the community had responded allowed us to target schools to get more where the responses weren’t as strong,” he stated.
The second step is expected to begin shortly and will also involve the community. Those that responded in the initial step will see the ‘thoughts’ associated with the three questions — specific to their school — and be able to assign ‘stars’ (from zero to five) for each thought that they agree or identify as a priority.
Once that step is completed, the ThoughtExchange team will compile the data and research for the WCPS board to reflect and reference as they continue to develop their three-year plan. Lovell is hoping that information will be available for the board’s meeting on Nov. 17.
Lorrie Jess, WCPS board chair, added, “It is our hope that the feedback will help shape the educational experiences for our students and help contribute to a positive future for our communities.”