The Hilliard City Schools didn't prepare for a global pandemic. Our work over the past 13 years wasn't in preparation for a stay-at-home order from the state.

The district has been focused on preparing each student for future success. The workforce of tomorrow and the college students of tomorrow require different educational experience, skills and opportunities. Memorization, regurgitation of facts and test-taking skills are not the talents essential for success today.

Hilliard was well-positioned to respond to the events of this crisis.

The heroes are our teachers. Our teachers have stepped up, answered the call and made learning possible. The care, dedication and professionalism of our teachers cannot be understated.

These heroes engage each student; they care first and teach second. When you have a moment, please say "thank you" to the fantastic educators who continue every day to prepare Hilliard students to be ready for tomorrow.

So let's look back at how we got to this place of readiness for a worldwide pandemic.

In 2008, Superintendent Dale McVey launched a yearlong strategic-vision process for the district.

The 2020 Plan, crafted with input from hundreds of stakeholders, set the direction for our district for a decade. The 2020 Plan focused on personalization, not standardization.

Our community embraced the integration of technology in our schools. The Innovative Learning Center, and now the Innovation Hub, as well, provide instructional opportunities to meet the needs of today's learners.

In 2013 the district's technology task force, another communitywide group including hundreds of members, defined our One-2-One program. After considering many devices for instructional efficacy, functionality both when connected and not connected to Wi-Fi and break/fix costs, district leaders chose to partner with Apple to provide iPads to every student. This program has evolved over the past seven years. We began with just our sixth-grade buildings, and we learned, adapted and improved as we moved to middle schools, high schools and, eventually, our elementary schools.

We worked hand in hand with our teachers, technology-support staff members and students. Hilliard moved to Canvas, our learning-management system, after exploring a myriad of options. The district's migration to Canvas came years before Ohio State University, Miami University, Bowling Green State University, Ohio University and many other colleges in Ohio. Our students going to college truly are ready for tomorrow.

Hilliard also has shifted many instructional tools directly into Canvas. Although we started years ago writing textbooks as iBooks, our teachers led the process of changing to publish content into each Canvas course.

Our Next X strategic vision, launched this past October, again highlights our district commitment to personalization.

Next X explicitly states that we will "personalize education for each learner to provide authentic and ongoing educational experiences that inspire and challenge."

In a time of global crisis, Hilliard continues the direction of our strategic plan. In the curriculum area of focus, the Next X strategic plan specifies: "Competencies necessary to be successful include, but are not limited to: critical thinking, technological aptitude, communications skills and creativity."

During a recent videoconference with Columbus business leaders, an executive leading a Fortune 500 company shared that this crisis will have a lasting impact on traditional office buildings. Corporate leaders are witnessing significant cost benefits associated with employees working from home or remote locations. Why have a massive office complex when employees can work in a home office?

Colleges and universities across the country are changing as a result of this crisis. Professors are experiencing online learning, and higher education is evolving.

Although no one is advocating for shifting all education to online learning, blended learning and the use of technology in education only will expand as a result of this experience.

The education community also is shifting away from standardized tests. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology no longer will consider the SAT or ACT for the admissions process. The dean of admissions, Stu Schmill, said, "We found that as fewer schools have been requiring the tests, fewer students have been taking them, and as such, they had become ... somewhat less predictive for us. ..." Many other colleges, including several state schools in Ohio, no longer require standardized tests.

The profile of a graduate is changing. The skills that were required of a graduate in 2010 are much different than the skills we are providing Hilliard graduates in 2020. This crisis only highlights why Hilliard is ahead of the curve.

The district is blessed to have a forward-thinking school board and supportive community. Being ready for tomorrow requires schools to adapt and adjust to the workforce needs of the future. We thank everyone in our community for being #OneHilliard because we are #InThisTogetherOhio.

Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.