North Canton City Schools hosted a Futures Conference on Nov. 17 in the Hoover High School commons area. There were many teachers and staff members who attended, along with many people from the community.

Superintendent Jeff Wendorf said the purpose of the community meeting was to kick off a five-month process to plan for the future of the district.

"This first meeting is to get everyone together and to get you thinking outside of the box when it comes to what the student of the future looks like; what the careers of the future may be; and what the school of the future might be like," Wendorf said. "We will follow this meeting with a Community Dialogue meeting on Dec. 14 to discuss school size, grade configuration, program offerings and alternative facility uses. A steering committee will review the information from that meeting and develop options for moving forward."

A third meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21, where the steering committee will present its findings from the first two meetings. The steering committee will gather more feedback and present its recommendations to the Board of Education in March.

People attending the Futures Conference were seated at large, round tables and given markers and paper to define what the people at the table thought about three areas: Qualities students will need in 2040; the careers of 2040; and what schools will look like in 2040.

Before starting on the group discussions, Scott Leopold, an educational consultant from Dejong Richter, showed three videos detailing what Millennials are thinking; developing a growth mindset in classrooms; and about the skilled trades classes making a strong coming back.

"Right now, the United States has an older population than other countries which means students in America are going to have to compete globally in the work world," Leopold said. "Our schools have to implement 21st Century learning in 21st Century styled classrooms. Learning will have to be outcome based with research driven curriculum and participatory and collaborative learning. Teachers will become facilitators."

Leopold said the Ohio School Facilities Commission has already assessed the district's facilities and Sol/Day Harris Architects are validating the assessment. He said the next step is develop a Master Plan for the district that will span the next 40 to 50 years.

"That Master Plan could include recommendations for new construction, remodeling facilities or updating technology," Leopold said. "Right now, the district’s enrollment is at around 4,000, which is a decline from the 5,000 it has been in the past."

Carolina Silva was working in one of the groups. She said the group was listing what learning may be like in 2040.

"We think the main difference in 2040 will be the high use of technology which will create a faster turnaround when it comes to learning," she said.

Mark Cerreta was working with four other people at his table. The group agreed on a number of thoughts about learning in the future.

"We’ve agreed that there probably won’t be brick and mortar schools anymore," Cerreta said. "There may not be grades given, instead students will learn based on their individual strengths and weaknesses and learning will be constant. For example, someone creative will learn differently than someone whose talents are focused more on processes."

Residents can review the information presented at the Nov. 17 meeting on the district’s website at www.northcantonschools.org. The slide show presentation will be available as well as results generated by the meeting.