The Genius of our District Lies in Each of You

 

As I reflected over the Thanksgiving holiday about what to say in this month’s update, I realized anything I attempted to write would fail to accurately convey my appreciation for all you do and for the grace with which you do your work. I know of no better way to express my appreciation than to simply say “thank you.”

During my first three years of teaching, I taught math to 35 mostly male students, none of whom had passed a math class during their high school career. On a daily basis I faced 35 examples of the failure of American education. From this experience, I learned that we can make a difference, but not if we are attempting it alone. I needed the support of my fellow teachers and I needed to know I was part of a team that cared about making a difference. I believe we all need the support and collective wisdom found in a system and a team.

The expectations we set — whether it’s mastery of state standards or table manners at Thanksgiving dinner — define desired outcomes. But as much as we would like it to be so, expectations alone cannot cause an outcome to occur. Instead, we need to focus on the conditions we create and intentions we possess. These can make a far greater difference to students, especially those who — like the math students I taught in my early years — are used to not meeting expectations.

I see extraordinary efforts happening in our schools to create conditions that provide every student with every chance, every day to become not just “test-ready,” but “future- ready.” You are providing breakfast for students who are hungry, ensuring our campuses are safe, making classrooms welcoming to all and so much more.

In whitewater rafting, you learn the only way to succeed is for everyone in the boat to sit out on the edge and paddle really hard, even though everyone would rather be sitting in the center, where it’s safer. For Bend-La Pine Schools to realize its biggest dreams, everyone needs to respond with paddles in the water. We want staff members to feel confident sitting on the edge — knowing they have the support of a team who is paddling alongside them.

The solutions to our challenges and the hope for our future are almost always right in front of us. If we believe the problems or solutions in our district are found beyond us, then we have rendered ourselves irrelevant. The genius of our district lies in each of you.

I encourage each of us to continually hear the call to paddle in unison.

No matter what your role or job title, we want your experience with Bend-La Pine Schools to be thoughtful, personal and meaningful. Let me know what we can do to better support your work, connection and engagement with who we are, what we do and that which we aspire to be.

 

I am honored to serve — and paddle in unison — alongside you.

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