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Oklahoma City Public Schools held the first convocation in four years Tuesday with an estimated 3,400 attending at the Cox Convention Center downtown.

Most public school districts across the state have convocations yearly.

Britton Elementary teachers
Britton Elementary Teachers respond to music being played at the end of the Convocation. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

Although teachers and staff were required to attend, the solid attendance number was encouraging to district administrators and a relief at least to the Superintendent, Dr. Sean McDaniels.

McDaniels said after the convocation Tuesday that “a nightmare” he had the night before was that “18 would show up.”

His fear was based on realities he has faced and continues to live with leading the largest and most urban of districts in Oklahoma.

Beyond fragmentation

Teachers and staff have lived with a fragmented district under serial failed superintendencies of the last decade producing questions about morale among those who carry out the mission of the urban district daily.

And recent squabbles over closing and renaming of schools has continued to give the appearance of a district that was struggling.

But, the majority of teachers that attended wore t-shirts representing their schools and sat together.

They cheered and responded to the positive presentations of the convocation even though many have been reassigned and were working hard to prepare for their first year in a school reconfigured by consolidation.

Reassignment

Being the beloved and respected district Teacher of the Year did not exempt Dr. Christina Kirk from moving to another building in the consolidation process.

Dr. Christina Kirk, OKCPS Teacher of the Year, speaks to the 3,400 gathered for the district’s convocation. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

She’s moving from Rogers Middle School to Star Spencer Mid-High as many of her Rogers students make the same shift to Star Spencer under its new 7-12 grade configuration.

She was one of the speakers at the convocation and provided an upbeat, teacher-take on Pathway to Greatness consolidations.

“Pathway To Greatness is a giant step forward for our students, and us, as the OKCPS family,” said Kirk in her speech.

“P2G is our opportunity to come together. This is our moment to walk in our collective greatness, embrace change with confidence, create new professional bonds, reinvent educational practices, and move along the path from good to great.”

Change is neutral

Free Press caught up with Kirk after the convocation and asked her what some of the challenges were going to be this year and how she was going to respond as she goes through those changes.

“I think our biggest challenge is just getting everyone involved in the process. And change is so different for people and people handle change differently,” said Kirk.

“But, we have to not look at change as negative and just look at it for what it is: Change is constant and it’s neutral. It’s what we do with the change that makes it positive or negative. And we’re going to do some amazing things is going to make this a very positive change for Oklahoma City.”

Re-branding

The convocation was the occasion for the district to reveal a new brand developed with local firm Insight Creative Group (ICG).

2019 OKCPS logo
New logo rolled out by OKCPS at their convocation. (Photo provided by OKCPS)

The dark blue “star man” logo of past decades is now retired.

The new logo is based on the unique appearance of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the state bird, but with it’s wings meant to look like pages of a book.

The moto on the district website now is “Ignite passion. Instill pride.”

Post-convo press conference

In a short press conference after the convocation, Free Press asked McDaniel about P2G and other topics.

Enrollment

Enrollment begins Wednesday for the school year that begins August 12.

For more information, including a school locator tool, go to the district website.


Correction: We have corrected the original version of this report where we said attendance was not required. Since the story was published, readers who are employed by the district have provided us with an email from the district referring to the convocation as a “mandatory meeting.” We regret the error and apologize to our loyal readers.



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