Focus, Teamwork and Optimism | GUEST OPINION

As educators we are charged with, what I believe to be, the world’s most important, challenging and rewarding work.  It is an awesome responsibility, a noble calling and a passion that requires us to rise above any challenge and do the best job we can for every child, every hour, every day.

These are challenging and tumultuous times.  Now, more than ever, it requires us to be laser focused on our mission and what’s essential.   It also requires us to pull together, support one another and demonstrate the power of teamwork.

We have worked very hard over the past few years to be clear.  Clarity — the definition: “The quality of being clear, pure and transparent.”  Our focus: clarity about who we are; clarity about our core work; clarity about where we are; clarity about standards and accountability; and clarity about where we go from here.  Our strategic plan adopted in 2010 will guide our work for the next five to seven years helping us to stay true to our mission and core values.  We are clear about our core work — educating ALL children, preparing and inspiring them to achieve their full potential.

In addition to clarity, we have fostered coherence across our school system — aligning our work to maximize our impact.  Each of our schools and departments establish annual school/department improvement plans that align to our district strategic plan.  These specific and measurable plans guide all of our work.  We frequently assess how we are doing in relation to these plans.  We use the data we gather to determine our next steps.  This clarity and coherence are making a difference across the school system.

Our Leadership Team: principals; assistant principals; directors; and cabinet members, are modeling for our entire school system the power of teamwork!  We have developed our Collective Commitments which are:

  • We accept learning as the fundamental purpose of our schools and district and therefore are willing to examine all practices in light of their impact on student learning.
  • We are committed to working together to achieve our collective purpose.  We cultivate a collaborative culture through development of high-performing teams.
  • We assess our effectiveness on the basis of results rather than intentions.  Individuals, teams and schools seek relevant data and information and use that information to promote continuous improvement.

One of our district essentials is putting into practice the cycle of continuous improvement through professional learning communities.  There are teams at all levels of the organization — departments; grade levels; content areas; leadership. These teams meet on a regular basis to examine their data and make adjustments in their practice.  It is impressive to see the level of commitment and professionalism focused on results.

Yes, these are challenging times.  Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty in our work.  Yes, we would benefit from stability in funding and accountability systems.  But, these children and families walking through our doors each and every day can’t wait.  They deserve the very best.  They deserve optimism and positive professionalism and we can deliver!

Our commitment to the success of every child, every hour, every day is unyielding.  We will continue to rise above these challenging and tumultuous times through focus, teamwork and optimism.

Thank you for entrusting us with the community’s most valuable resource — the children. We are so fortunate to be members of this caring, committed community.

]Please consider joining us . . .

Focus on Education Measuring Our Progress

Tuesday, Nov.15, noon to 2 p.m.

Noon: Lunch

1 p.m.: School Tour

We will be hosting our community in our schools and classrooms to provide an opportunity for you to see first-hand evidence of the progress we are making. Included in the day’s activities will be a bus ride to a few schools, classroom visits, and a hosted lunch. You can RSVP with Andrea Conley at 360-618-6217.

Dr. Kristine McDuffy is the Superintendent of the Arlington Public Schools and can be reached at 360-618-6202 or www.asd.wednet.edu.


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