DPSCD superintendent Nikolai Vitti has made student issues a central concern in his time with the district.
Vitti knows that there are multiple problems facing students in the district, including suspensions. He acknowledges that suspension rates are high.
“We need to move away from out of school suspension and have in school suspension,” said Vitti.
“With any students, but especially our students, when you give them a reason not to go to school they’re not going to go to school,” said Vitti. “If you're out of school for five days in a row, you build a pattern that’s outside of school.”
The superintendent believes behavior problems can be related to the curriculum.
“Behavioral issues are linked to high class sizes and curriculum being outdated and not necessarily interesting to students,” said Vitti.
He plans to make curriculum more engaging and modern.
“We’re getting a new curriculum that’s highly aligned to the standards and updated. Our curriculum is very outdated throughout the district, and I think that forces teachers to ‘make it work’ and to fill in the gaps.”
Vitti has other ideas to help students succeed academically, including using technology and focusing on freshmen in high school.
“We can use technology more to help students. We’re trying to slowly but surely expand technology so that technology can be a tool for students to manage their academics.”
Vitti strongly believes in high school students’ focus.
“The most important year in high school is your freshman year,” said Vitti.“Most students really don’t wake up in high school until their junior year.”
He suggests having orientations to reduce behavioral issues and make students serious about school.
“One thing I think we could do better as a district is do orientation more consistently,” said Vitti.
Vitti is concerned for students’ personal preferences and strives to allow students to find their passion, even outside of college.
“We also have to think about careers. We shouldn’t create one-size-fits all approaches and a lot of students are very talented and have multiple intelligences. How do we find other pathways for them outside core academics, like welding, carpentry, electrical work? You can make a great living and that can be your passion.”
Vitti considers meeting the needs of students to be an important part of his core values, including being interviewed by student journalists for the Dialogue.
Vitti said, “I do this because I want to model for the district how we develop student voice, how we grow as leaders by listening to students.”