New superintendent has innovative ideas
Tuesday morning, the teachers at Marble City School were cooking a full-course meal with just a few ingredients provided for them as a challenge to be creative, work as a team, and to think outside the box, explained the school's new superintendent Wade Stafford.
Stafford, who has been in education for 26 years, has innovative ideas for the school and the community. He was hired this past summer after the school's last superintendent retired.
“My wife and I are both excited to be here. We look forward to getting to know the students, parents, and the community of Marble City and people from the surrounding area,” he said.
Stafford, who is in his 14th year as a superintendent, has spent much of his time working as a coach, principal or superintendent, near the Panhandle. “I was at Hammond Public School in Elk City for two years. The majority of my time was at Hardesty near Guyman, and for six years at Coyle as a basketball coach and high school principal,” he said. Coyle is located near Langston University in Central Oklahoma. Stafford, whose roots are in Perry, was also a high school principal and a basketball coach at Yarbrough High School which is also near the Panhandle.
“We decided to come to Marble City because my wife is Native American. She is half Navaho, and Creek and Seminole. With the Native American population and the beautiful country here, we just felt like we needed to be here,” Stafford said.
His wife, Zena Stafford, has a master's degree in Native American Leadership. She will be teaching Language Arts and Career Exploration for the upper grade students at Marble City.
“I'm more accustomed to teaching high school students but it will be great to get the seventh and eighth graders prepared for future challenges. Whether it's going to a different school, college or just adjusting to a new and different environment. Indian Ed is a passion of mine. Im looking forward to teaching here,” she said. “I love it here. I feel like I'm home.”.
Stafford said he has many ideas for the school including a Family Fun Night from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the school.
“We're going to have inflatables and other activities to get the community out. At 9 p.m., we're going to show a movie. It's just our way of getting the community together and introducing ourselves,” Stafford said.
Stafford said he hopes to bring a lot of positivity to the community which, over the past few years, has lost some students to other neighboring schools.
“There's been a lot of transfers over the past few years and we want to make improvements academically and make changes. There are different students every year and we, as a school, need to keep up with the changes and not be afraid to make changes where there needs to be some. We need to learn to think outside the box and that's one of the things I want to stress to our faculty,” he said.
“Education should be fun, exciting and we should provide our students with a more enjoyable atmosphere where they look forward to coming to school and be excited about learning,” he said.
For the first time, the school will have a block schedule for grades fifth through eighth.
“They will be spending one hour and nine minutes in math, science, Social Studies, English or Language. We want them to spend more time in their core subject areas,” he said.
A newspaper class is also new to the school to teach them about current events and to utilize newspapers and other media outlets for their source of information.
The exercise he gave to the teachers Tuesday is similar to “Chops,” a television program which gives the cooks a challenge to create a meal from only a few provided ingredients.
“They have to be organized, be creative and work together which is a concept they can take back into the classroom,” he said.
Marble City ended its school year this past Spring with less than a hundred students. Stafford said he hopes to increase those numbers before the new school year ends.
“We want to make a concerted effort to promote Marble City School in a positive way and I believe that will bring our students back,” he said.
“I'm glad to be here. I saw the opening for a superintendent here online and my wife and I researched it, talked about it, and decided this is where we need to be.
“All the pieces in the puzzle seemed to fit together.. I believe it's a good fit,” he said.