Editor's note: The following is a column written by for .
I want to thank you again for the opportunity you have given me. I understand that you have made a great investment in me and in turn, my husband and I will invest in the Lakeville Community. I believe in time, you find that you made a quality investment. I also want to thank you for your trust and support as I get up to speed in this new position.
I began my work as superintendent just a few weeks ago, and during that time I have had the great pleasure of meeting with many students, staff, parents, and other members of the community. The reception I have received from everyone I have met has been wonderful, and for that, I am very appreciative.
What I have learned about this district as a result of the many conversations I have had over the last few weeks only confirms what I first came to understand about the Lakeville Area Public Schools during the interview process—that this is an outstanding school district in a terrific community. As a newcomer, one of the things that really struck me when I spoke with students, parents and other community members is the feeling of pride they have in their schools. That pride—that feeling of ownership—is critical to the success of any school district and it is what makes this school district thrive.
I believe there are many reasons for community members to be proud. We have caring administrators, teachers and support staff, safe schools, incredible opportunities for students and a commitment to the very best educational practices. From our outstanding and dedicated staff, to our committed parents and community partners to our high achieving students, whose success in the classroom is matched by achievements on the athletic fields, in the fine arts auditoriums and in the community, we have a lot to be proud of!
But as with nearly every other school district in the state, the Lakeville Area Public Schools will face a number of critical challenges in the coming years. The district’s uncertainty around enrollment and growth, our difficult economy and even unforeseen challenges only increases the pressure on our district. So while we have much to be proud of, we also have good reason for concern.
This board and this community had to make some very difficult decisions in the this past year. These are the types of decisions that too often divide communities, that pit one group against another. We simply can’t let that happen. The bottom line is that in these difficult times it is going to take all of us—this entire district community—working together in support of our shared values and our vision for the future.
Much of my work as superintendent will be directed toward that goal.
As part of my transition plan, I will be meeting directly with members of the community to better understand their challenges and concerns. In addition to meeting parents at beginning-of-the-year events and throughout the school year, I intend to meet community members at meetings of local service clubs and other meetings and community events.
I will also invite community members to call me, to meet with me, and I will seek opportunities, both formal and informal, to speak to and even more importantly, to listen to community members. Even though I’ll implement other things, such as community newsletters, a superintendent's blog and more active use of our district's Facebook page to better inform community members, that alone is not my goal. Certainly we must inform, but even more importantly, I intend to engage our community members in the challenges and opportunities of their school district. With that, we will provide community members with meaningful opportunities to understand our challenges, to weigh different options and be able to inform us with their thoughts and suggestions.
To that end, I will provide opportunities for community listening sessions, community conversations and engagement opportunities to share and receive information from community stakeholders. This will be our opportunity to be completely transparent in our efforts and for community members to sink their teeth into the difficult budget challenges we face in our district and our state.
Similarly, we will seek opportunities to connect people with their schools. That may be as simple as encouraging community members—even those who do not have children attending the schools —to tour the schools that their tax dollars are invested in. It also means promoting volunteer opportunities in an effort to make use of the tremendous talents of our community members.
The message will be loud and clear to community members: we want your opinions, we want your suggestions, we want you to be involved in and proud of your schools.
But just as I intend to connect with community members, I also understand that staff culture is a critical component of educational success, so, I will look for opportunities to engage our terrific staff in a collective vision and direction for our schools.
Together, let's celebrate our achievements—and there are many to celebrate. Let's work together on those areas where we must improve. When we have strong schools, our communities win.