Patrick Duffy
Hesston Elementary School
Unified School District 460 Hesston Public Schools
Hesston, Kansas

Patrick Duffy has overseen a sweeping reorganization of the daily schedule at his small-town school. The changes have provided long blocks of uninterrupted time for instruction in reading and math. The school day also now offers built-in time to support struggling students. It minimizes transition times and provides teachers opportunities for individual and team planning. Ten years ago, Duffy also eliminated traditional staff meetings. Staff members now meet twice a month in the Learning Teams that he spearheaded. Each staff member is a member of a team of four, mirroring the structure of student teams in the classrooms. Duffy changes Learning Team assignments quarterly to ensure that each teacher works with all staff members. The collaborations give teachers a chance to experiment with research-based best practices in instruction. Duffy also established a Building Leadership Team, which includes teachers from all grade levels. What’s more, he played an instrumental role in creating a professional learning community among the staff. He sees this as a strategy for sustaining substantial school improvements. “Our learning [in this community] suggests ongoing action and perpetual curiosity,” he says. Duffy’s principalship at Hesston Elementary has extended more than 17 years. The school currently houses 314 kindergarten through grade 4 students. He has a B.A. from Bethany College in Kansas and an M.S.Ed. from the University of Kansas.