Superintendent's Blog: Making Our Schools Talent Incubators

Micheal is a junior who has already earned 1,000 National Speech and Debate League points, and he is on track to break the Tilghman record of 1,024 career points. Students like Micheal are the ideal that we have for all of our students. Students like Michael who reach the highest level of performance in their area of interest don't appear overnight, however. Most of them find a talent that they enjoy early in their school careers, and then are given opportunities to develop those talents. This is true whether their talent is in an academic, athletic, or artistic area.

To continue using speech as an example, the Tilghman speech team was almost dead ten years ago, but Martha Emmons took it over and breathed new life into it. Now the team regularly draws 50+ students on the speech team, has won the regional tournament three years in a row, and is one of the top ten teams in the state.

The reinvigorated speech team led to the creation of a speech team at Paducah Middle. This year the team had 14 members, placed third in the region, and qualified every member of the team for the state speech tournament.

As the Paducah Middle speech team has developed, a speech team at Clark has begun. This year, Clark fifth grader Paige Kight decided to participate in the McCracken County 4-H club speech competition. When Clark FRYSC director Robyn West learned of this, she decided to organize a speech club for other students who wanted to compete, and they began meeting after school to practice. The entire team participated in the 4-H Communications Day competition. Clark 5th grader Cameron Dorris was runner-up in his event and was able to participate in the regional when the first place winner was unable to attend. Additionally, PT freshman and speech team member Anna Grace McGee was named regional champion and will advance to the state competition.

What has happened in speech is a process we want to see replicated in every area- arts, athletics, and academics. We want to be a district that offers students the opportunity to discover the talents they have been given, and to develop those talents as far as their ability and dedication will take them.

I was a student athlete and chemistry major in college, but in high school I had some artistic ability. I was able to develop that ability, thanks to four years art classes and the encouragement of teachers like Henrietta Scott. As it turned out, I won a national award for an art project and was offered an art scholarship, but I’m confident that would not have happened if I had not been part of a school district that gave me the chance to explore that talent.

Beginning next fall, all three of my sons will be attending school in our district. It is exciting to know that regardless of where their talents lie, Paducah Public Schools will help my sons discover and develop their talents to their fullest potential.

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