SMSD News: Portrait of a Shawnee Mission School District Graduate

The Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) has a vision for what every student will know and be able to do on their graduation day. It is called the “Portrait of a Graduate.” This portrait highlights the key skills and attributes critical to life success.

 The Portrait of a Graduate reflects our community’s vision. It was developed in the 2019-20 school year by individuals including:

  • Students
  • Parents
  • Educators
  • Counselors
  • Partners from business and industry

These individuals represented all district feeder patterns and included individuals whose native language is not English. Their work was rooted in the district’s Strategic Plan objective that each student will have a personalized learning plan that will prepare them for college and careers, with the interpersonal skills they need for life success.

 A key strength of the portrait is that it focuses on those skills that go beyond core academic subjects, and are needed for life success, shared Dr. Ryan Flurry, principal of career education campuses and coordinator of career and technical education. For example, in the portrait, “success is measured by competency, not seat time.” Students are considered to be college and career ready not simply based on acquisition of knowledge, but also “application of knowledge in a real world setting.”

 “Those academic skills are one piece of a larger puzzle when it comes to preparing students for their future,” Flurry noted.

A Resource for All Students

While the portrait looks toward the future, it is designed to support students and their educators from Pre-K through graduation. Educators will use this resource as a guide in every school building.

 “This will guide all students as they progress in Shawnee Mission,” Flurry shared.  “This makes the target clear for everyone. Whether you are teaching third grade, ninth-grade, or electives, we are all aiming for that same end result for all of our students.”

 The portrait outlines these as the following key skills and attributes critical to life success:

  • College and Career Readiness
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Personal resilience
  • Personalized Learning
  • Citizenship

Click here to see further detail about each outlined component.

Personalized Learning (Broad Values)

All components of the portrait are achieved through Personalized Learning. In the Shawnee Mission School District, this is defined as “learning which places the whole child at the center of instruction and is informed by strong educator/student/family/community relationships to provide equity and choice in time, place, path, pace, and demonstration of learning.”

 In August, three Shawnee Mission students who helped develop the Portrait of a Graduate and the definition of personalized learning helped present the concepts to the Shawnee Mission Board of Education. Tobi Oyetunji, Indian Hills eighth-grader, Lida Padgett, SM East sophomore, and Jocelyn Tovar, Hocker Grove, eighth-grader, provided details about their experience developing the portrait and what it will mean for students.

 All of the essential skills in the portrait are attained through personalized learning, Tovar emphasized to the Board.  

 “A key part is giving students choice and voice in how they demonstrate their learning,” she added.

 Collaboration is also a key part of successful personalized learning, according to Dr. Darren Dennis, chief academic officer. 

“It has to be done in partnership with our students,” he stated.

 Shawnee Mission’s definition of personalized learning means students, families, and educators will collaborate to support student learning, with a focus on academic success, strengths, and areas for growth. It is supported by targeted instruction which uses a variety of ways to provide feedback and inform instruction. Personalized Learning is also supported by student ownership and reflection – giving the students themselves opportunities to set, track, and evaluate their own goals and make connections between their work and future goals.

 Part of Shawnee Mission’s mission is to ensure students construct their own foundation for success in life’s endeavors. The Portrait of a Graduate bolsters our efforts to work in partnership, to serve as the bridge to unlimited possibilities yet to be discovered.