Exclusive interview with Frisco ISD Superintendent: part three

Frisco ISD is an ever-growing district with new plans constantly in play, and Wingspan was able to sit down with the man who runs it all. Here is the final part of a special interview with Dr. Mike Waldrip.

Wingspan: What is the thought process behind expanding the course offerings in Frisco ISD?

Waldrip: “One of the things we want to do is prepare our students for the future. So we’re always listening to our students and our community and things are always changing and evolving. So these things are just part of the process. Through the years we’ve always added classes on a regular basis, maybe not every year, but certainly every few years, and its based on interest, its based on what’s going on in the world around us, and if it is an interest and a need for our students. We want them to be able to take courses and educate themselves in areas of interest, things possibly that they want to do as a career, this is the best place in the world to get a taste of things you might be interested in. For example, our ISM program. I know a lot of students who have gotten a mentor and have thought that they wanted to do something with their career but then they get into it and they go, ‘oh man this isn’t what I want to do with my life.’ To me, that’s one of the best experiences you can have, is to figure out now that that’s not something you want to do, as opposed to getting to college for four years and then getting out and realizing that. Not only are there things that you’re already interested in but also things that might interest you. SO we’re always modifying and changing things-sometimes things go away- because we’re always looking to improve and help students prepare for college and anywhere else they might go when they leave us.”

Wingspan: By offering courses through Collin’s technical campus, does the district jope to put an emphasis on alternatives to college?

Waldrip: “College is not for everyone, or they might not think it is right now, perhaps they think they have a different path, so for Collin College to have this technical campus and be involved is great. Again, it goes back to giving students what they need or want for their future. Sometimes it might be college, sometimes it might be the military, and sometimes it might be in some other area. So I think that the more opportunities that we can have for students to pursue those interests, the better. For example, the CTE center here offers more than 30 certifications and other things from nursing to computer networking to a myriad of other things. I think that’s great for our students, because if there is something else they need they can do that. So we’re always looking to add things if that is in the student’s interest.” 

Wingspan: Why is FISD made up of multiple small schools and how does that benefit students and staff?

Waldrip: “FISD has been a fast growing school district and many years ago, more than more than probably thirty years ago, this community made a decision to have smaller schools that have neighborhood schools. As an example Allen HS has about 7,000 students in high school but that model several years ago we actually put out a survey to our community to see if they still want and overwhelmingly they still want a small school model, and as we like to call it it is a “know every student by name and need” model. That’s a whole lot easier to do with a smaller Community School environment than it is in a larger School District. Now I’m not I’m not saying anything negative about Allen, it’s just a different community preference. What we have is a student opportunities model. Here in Frisco we have 11 first chair trombone players, over there in Allen there’ll only be one. So there’s a lot more opportunities here. We’ve got 11 point guards on the basketball teams, we’ve got 11 quarterbacks, there’s just a lot of opportunities for our students. I personally love this model, and I’m glad our community still supports it.” 

Wingspan: Is there anything else you’d like to say to students and staff?

Waldrip: “Thank you, more than anything. Particularly over the last year-and-a-half, families and situations and it’s always a new challenge and ultimately everybody responded well and I know it’s emotional sometimes and I know there are different opinions and different points of view, but ultimately everybody wants the same thing: which is for you all have a really good education and be able to go on and do whatever you want to do and be successful at it. If you can clear away all that other stuff I think that’s what everybody really wants even the people that don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye, we all want you to be successful and have a good experience going to school here.”