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What skills will Durango School District graduates need to succeed?

What should our students know, do and be like by the time they graduate? What skills and dispositions will they need for the future?

These questions will be the focus of a communitywide campaign to develop our district’s shared vision, our unity of purpose.

Starting on Nov. 29, we will hear from industry and community leaders about what they believe are critical skills for success in the workplace of the future. The district will continue with teacher and staff input, community member sessions and hearing from students as well.

Our goal is to develop a set of competencies that we want for all students, by early spring. These competencies will inform our work in strategic planning, aligning initiatives, community partnerships and optimizing resources.

Why is this important to prepare our students for the future, as well as the present? Did you know that 85% of the jobs that will be available by the time our elementary students graduate don’t even exist now?

Think of the jobs today that we may not have even dreamed of just a few years ago – drone traffic controller, cybersecurity specialist, crowdfunding specialist, artificial intelligence operator.

In 1900, human knowledge doubled every 100 years; now it doubles every 12 hours. Many of the technologies our students will be using have not been invented yet. The current landscape requires strong content mastery, but also unique skills to tackle any tough problem, think in new ways, be entrepreneurial and to lead with empathy.

We do know, though, that no matter what the job or the technology, there will be a set of soft skills, essential skills, workplace skills, “power skills” that they will need. Maybe those will include skills such as collaboration, creativity and critical thinking?

This will be the topic of our discussions as we gather input from around our Durango and La Plata County community. We invite you to join us in one or more of these community discussions as we ensure every one of our students is prepared for whatever the future holds.

Karen Cheser is the superintendent of Durango School District 9-R.