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Superintendent's Message

A Message from Dr. Shannon Wagner, Superintendent, Burrell School District



The calendar may read 2020, but in many ways, the Burrell School District is already focused on 2030. As educators, we have an obligation to prepare students not just for the world we are living in, but the world that awaits.

Our district’s emphasis on problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking represents the type of proactive approach that will keep our students and graduates one step ahead. Furthermore, in 2019, Burrell was the first district in Pennsylvania to implement the Choose Love Enrichment Program, a social-emotional learning curriculum that teaches self-control and personal responsibility through the four components – Courage, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Compassion, ultimately creating a safer environment in our schools.

FACT: In 2020, the three skills in the highest demand are complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. (World Economic Forum)

So what’s next?

We already know that locally, regionally, and beyond, there’s a workforce crisis at hand — jobs are available, but there’s a shortage of people with the skills to do them. In fact, more and more businesses are looking to form partnerships that provide pathways to employment. However, it’s up to us to identify and teach the skills that’ll make our graduates attractive to employers, even as automation and artificial intelligence continue to eliminate the need for certain types of job skills.  

FACT: By 2030, the workforce skills that will increase most in demand will be technological, social-emotional, and higher cognitive. By contrast, physical and manual skills will be in decreased demand. (World Economic Forum)

As we begin a new decade, we know that STEM education alone will not give our students the best opportunity for success in the marketplace they will eventually confront. So-called “soft skills” like collaboration and creativity will continue to be important, but based on trends in technology and the forces of a global economy, we know it’s time to begin emphasizing other types of skills as well:

Higher Cognitive Skills

Includes critical thinking, information processing, decision making, advanced literacy, and quantitative ability. 

Social And Emotional Skills

Includes advanced interpersonal communication, empathy, and the ability to manage people. 

Technological Skills

Includes basic to advanced IT skills, data analysis, engineering, and research. 

Even as we move forward with an eye toward the future, we realize there are time-tested traits that will always serve our students and graduates well, both personally and professionally. So we’ll continue to reinforce the value of dependability, punctuality, and accountability. Likewise, the confidence to make eye contact and deliver a good handshake can never be replaced by artificial intelligence. And as a district, we’ll continue to let the same fundamental question guide our decision-making:

How will this ensure a high level of learning for each and every one of our students?

In the meantime, we take immense pride in providing an environment where our students can discover their passions, learn to overcome challenges, form meaningful relationships, and create lifelong memories. And we take immense pride in being part of a community bigger than ourselves.

We take immense pride in being Burrell Bucs.