Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Thank You Post

We're down to the last day of school, and while technically I will be interim superintendent through June 30th, I started on the first day of school and it feels like I am ending tomorrow. What a ride it has been!

This week, with the help of our communications department, I shared a video with staff that recaps the school year. You can view it from this link on most computers.

iPads in Dee Miller's class at Cedarhurst
 This year I joined with the school board to emphasize four goals for our work:
  1. Champion equity
  2. Lead for innovation
  3. Enhance teaching and learning
  4. Engage staff and community
I am very proud of our accomplishments this year. The equity assessment we commissioned from an outside group has provided intense, but valuable feedback on how our current reality compares to the ideals we aspire to in our equity policy. This feedback is making us reexamine how we do everything from professional development to assessment, and from human resources to community engagement. We have had three schools named as "Innovation Schools" by the state, and greatly expanded adaptive technology. Just last week at Cedarhurst Elementary, I toured our first classroom deployment of iPads for instructional use, providing videos and non-fiction text in support of science education. This spring we have created a process to expand our dual language program and worked to launch our new instructional framework. And on a personal note, I have visited and blogged about 63 schools, work sites, and community organizations in Highline.

Yet the work is humbling. We still have far too many students completing school without a diploma or less than fully prepared for college. Our achievement gaps are too large. We have made incremental progress providing opportunities in the arts, but we want students to have many more opportunities in all subject areas over time. We can improve our systems and our culture. Much work lies ahead.

And now to those thank yous...

You'll notice in listing our accomplishments above, I used "we." The truth is, the superintendent cannot do much without the help of many others. Every time the district looks good, and every time I have looked good, it's due to the work of others.

With Jan, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Thank you to Jan, the superintendent's assistant. This office would not run without her. Period. Jan is beloved by thousands of staff and patrons, and I will always treasure our year working together.

Thank you to our students. You have no idea how many times I have been inspired by their achievement, hope, and compassion.

Thank you to our principals, whose job is more complex than you could possibly imagine. No group of employees collectively put in more hours or accomplish more for our students than our principals.

Thank you to our teachers and all staff who work directly with students. There is no more important role on earth than yours. All that we celebrate as a country is due in large part to what you do every day.

Thank you to our support staff and administrators. I never had to schedule a bus run, resource a construction project, repair our facilities, design our website, assemble a lunch menu, call home on absent students, or write curriculum frameworks. But I tried to never take for granted that the district wouldn't run without the people who do these and many other invaluable services.

Thank you to our community. Our community support has never wavered, from parents and community members to formal organizations. My job would have been been immensely more difficult without their support.

Thank you to the Senior Leadership Team. You are a talented group of individuals. Your work has made all the difference in me being able to slide in and lead this year without skipping a beat. Particular thanks to my deputy superintendent Dr. Carla Jackson, whose grace, integrity and work ethic know no bounds.

Thank you to the Highline School Board, for giving me the amazing privilege of being your superintendent for the past year. I have gotten to work with two great board presidents, Sili Savusa and Angelica Alvarez, and I can truly say that all five of our board members are motivated by nothing other than the best interests of our students and community.

Thank you to my family. My wife Shannon and two sons have shared me very generously and supported me fully. Although I will miss being superintendent, I am just as glad to be able to spend more time with them. Thanks also to my parents, who provided me the broad base of experiences that have led me on my path in life.

I'll close by wishing my successor, Dr. Susan Enfield, the very best. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her during the transition. Over the past several weeks she has taken time to begin learning our culture and to share with us her student centered approach to school systems. During her interview process, Dr. Enfield stated that Highline is poised to go from good to great. I couldn't agree more. Good luck Dr. Enfield!

I'll be back for one final post, celebrating our amazing run of student graduations.

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