Idea Quest garners original ideas from staff to improve district

Alternative Copy Story by Josh Framke

During the early part of November, staff have been invited to create and share suggestions via PONY Idea Quest, a website for sparking innovative ideas and helpful changes in schools districts.

Idea Quest is a big step up from the school districts’ last approach at making changes. This is the first year the school district is using this program and they are looking forward to using it again in the future.

Previously staff had to set up a large meeting to get ideas and feedback suggested, but Idea Quest is proving far more effective. With only a few clicks of a button, the whole school district can suggest new ideas  any time of day within the period of the submission process and vote for those at any time during the period of voting that follows. Because there are no time restrictions like there are in a set meeting, there is more flexibility and therefore more people can participate.

“This way reaches more people and it’s convenient because it can be at any time,” video teacher Debbie Drew said. “Before it had to be in a meeting and everyone hates meetings.”

Not only is this website more accessible, but it is also more efficient than meetings.  This is how it works: any staff member can submit recommendations which are then grouped into categories based on cost.  Once submitted, everyone in the school district can see and vote for their favorite ideas by comparing them between other ideas, one at a time, creating a ranking for committees to use when making decisions on what to change.  

“This way reaches more people and it’s convenient because it can be at any time.”

— Debbie Drew

“I found it really interesting to see the ideas, the scope of ideas, that came in,” technology and innovation coach Michael Teachout said. “We were very happy to see 53 ideas submitted and a significant number of district employees voting. Hopefully by following upon them, next year if we do this again we will see more buy in to the process.”

A staff member that has taken advantage of Idea Quest is science teacher Staci Bartlett. She submitted six ideas, her top three favorites being a time to explore other electives and classes, longer lunches and a therapy dog.

“I would like to have a school therapy dog because there is a lot of kids with stress and anxiety and depression, and petting dogs has been shown to release oxytocin,” Bartlett said.

Since this is the first time staff have used this approach, they are doing it only annually.  The deadline for submissions just passed; committees have yet to finalize any decisions on the issues given.  Teachout is hopeful the school district will be able to supply return on the diversity of ideas once all the hard work is finished.

“I think the school will be different depending on the ideas they choose to pursue,” Principal Rob Bach added.