When CVA senior Marlee Holleran had a concern about her workload, she did something about it. She wrote a polite, three-page typed letter to Superintendent Rich Hughes explaining her views on the district’s writing curriculum. After reading it, Dr. Hughes met personally with Marlee—resulting in an agreement that he would spend an entire school day with her, learning what it is like to be a CVA student.
On Monday, Feb. 2, Dr. Hughes, dressed in jeans and a college sweatshirt, walked into Marlee’s first period class, College Now English with Jim Mott. Dr. Hughes kiddingly introduced himself as the new kid who just transferred into the district. And so the day continued, with Marlee and Dr. Hughes in every class—even a highly active physical education class. The only exceptions came when Dr. Hughes returned to his office to catch up on paperwork during Marlee’s fourth period study hall and when Marlee left campus to grab a slice of pizza during lunch.
The unannounced visits caught the first teachers by surprise, but they continued with their lessons without interruption. As the day wore on, news of Marlee’s shadow raced through the high school. Marlee’s classmates and teachers knew what was coming.
Between classes the two chatted about curriculum and school policies. At day’s end, Marlee mentioned that other students had suggested ideas they wanted shared with the superintendent. Dr. Hughes offered the opportunity to meet with a small group of students interested in sharing their opinions and helping to find solutions to perceived problems.
“It was an interesting day. We saw some examples of great teaching and areas where we, as a district, need to improve,” said Dr. Hughes.
“The biggest thing is that we need to devote every moment of class time to creating a student-centered educational environment. We can no longer ask students to memorize content, because information changes daily in a digital world. We need to provide our students with the skills to creatively use information together with fellow students or employees. Yes, you still need to know the material, but you also need to know what to do with it. That’s what it will take for our Thunder to successful beyond our walls.”
Dr. Hughes said Marlee personifies what it takes to be successful in this world.
“Marlee took a big step by writing me. It took determination and a measure of courage to have the superintendent follow her around all day. She demonstrated how one student can take ownership of her education and her future,” he said.
Marlee has been accepted into several physician’s assistant and physical therapy programs. She is currently weighing her choices.