Opinion

Arlington Public Schools — History, Hard Work and Hope

As I complete my seventh month on the job as the new superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, I reflect on what an amazing place this is — a rich history and strong foundation; incredible staff doing the hard work each and every day to ensure that every child can achieve their full potential; a deep excitement and hope for the future even with the ominous challenges we face. It’s an honor to be here and a privilege to serve.

The work is hard and the challenges very real. I say we do the world’s most important, challenging and rewarding work in public education. We must continuously seek ways to improve our system to meet the needs of every child, every hour, every day.

We have focused our work in four areas:

n Student Achievement

n Safe/Caring Environment

n Stewardship

n Continuous Improvement

Student achievement is our core mission and is the filter for all of our decisions. We are using data for each child to ensure we are meeting their needs; using school-wide data to develop our school improvement plans; and using district-wide data to clearly articulate and align our work across the system.

A safe and caring environment is paramount. We have made great progress with emergency preparedness partnering with the city of Arlington and Cascade Valley Hospital. We are so much stronger and better prepared through this collaboration. In addition, to foster our caring environment, we have multiple policies and programs promoting civility and respect. Our students and community deserve nothing less.

The schools belong to the community — we must be good stewards. We are modeling stewardship of our community’s resources as well as our earth’s resources. Through such activities as an energy audit; food waste and other recycling programs; turn out the lights campaign; environmental programs and the formation of a “green team,” we are discovering ways to work smarter and do the right thing.

The work is never done. We continuously seek ways we can improve through the review of research and best practices and feedback from our constituents. We are committed to being the very best we can be and that must come through transparency and dialog. Communication with our constituents is essential. I have created a special section on our district Web site, www.asd.wednet.edu, which will provide current and clear budget status information. Constituents are encouraged to provide feedback through the communication tool on our Web site, by calling or emailing our Public Information Department at 360-618-6207 or Public_Info@asd.wednet.edu.

We face tremendous challenges in public education on the national, state and local level. Record deficits, changing accountability systems, increased student needs will undoubtedly strain an already strained system.

The children who walk through our doors each day deserve our very best. We must keep the focus while we work to improve the conditions around us. I have complete confidence that we will be able to bring about the necessary change. One of my favorite quotes is, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that every has.” Margaret Mead.

Everywhere I turn, I find thoughtful, committed staff and citizens. That is what keeps the hope and the excitement alive to do this work — the world’s most important, challenging and rewarding work.

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