Otsego lists aspirations for its students

TONTOGANY — Otsego Local Schools has engaged its community to develop a Portrait of a Graduate, a
collective vision that is the community’s aspirations for its students.
The first step, which was to work on the design of the plan, is completed, said Superintendent Adam Koch.
Now, staff, parents and students will work on the implementation part in their daily lives and classes.

“As school leaders, we must continually ask ourselves what are the hopes, aspirations and dreams that our
community has for our children,” Koch said. “We want all Otsego Local Schools students to have learning
experiences that prepare them to be lifelong learners and contributors today and tomorrow.”
The portrait has six designs students should strive to achieve: be responsible, flexible, empathetic,
problem solvers, driven and communicators.
The district recruited a 57-member Portrait Design Team that represented all aspects of the community —
including students — to help co-design the Portrait.
“It’s essential that our district collaborates with our community to create a portrait that describes
what our students need to be ready for life,” said Koch. “Success depends on more than just what you
know, but also how you communicate, collaborate, innovate, and think critically.”
Ryan Odendahl was a member of the design team. He has two students who attend Otsego and is the
Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 347 in Tontogany.
“I applaud the administration at Otsego Schools for engaging in this effort and as both a parent and
employer, sincerely valued the process,” Odendahl said.
He was impressed with the forward-thinking atmosphere in the meetings and the willingness of the
administration to engage in discussions with stakeholders from all areas of the community, to include
parents, teachers, students, and community members.
The goal was to “craft a path forward to equip graduates with not only the academic skills required for
entry into either higher education or the career field of their choosing, but also the soft skills,
traits and personal values and attributes that will help ensure their success,” he said.
Odendahl also is partner and president at Kwest Group, a civil/industrial contracting firm based in
Perrysburg Township and is a member of national Workforce Development Committee of Associated Builders
and Contractors. He said as an employer, the Portrait of a Graduate that was discussed in each meeting
“is exactly what we look for in candidates for employment with our firm.”
Koch said as school leaders, it is important to ask what are the hopes, aspirations and dreams that the
community has for its young people; what are the skills and habits of mind that children need for
success in this rapidly changing and complex world; and what are the implications for the learning
experiences that is provided in the school systems.
The Portrait of a Graduate is the first step in framing a new vision for Otsego, he said.
“Although our perspectives are highly diverse, our shared aspiration is that all students have an
educational experience that prepares them to be lifelong learners and contributors today and tomorrow,”
Koch said.
The process started in November.
“We as parents, employers and community members have the responsibility to help to prepare the young men
and women graduating from Otsego Schools for higher education and/or the workforce,” Odendahl said.
“There will be many opportunities for future graduates, but they must be prepared with both the
in-demand technical skills and the personal attributes that will help them to not only succeed, but to
thrive. The Portrait of a Graduate process was a great step to allow the community stakeholders to
uphold this responsibility.”