Welcome to a new school year! It is always great to see the energy and enthusiasm as students and teachers return to our buildings. I hope that each of you had a great start and have had an excellent first few weeks with kids in the buildings. I am sure that most of you have presented to staff and greeted the students and parents as they returned for another school year. Setting the tone and expectations in those initial interactions with staff and community is so important to school leadership.
In the midst of political, social, and international turmoil, one doesn’t have to look very hard to find distractions to our purpose and resolve. Our students and families expect that we provide the highest quality education and care in our schools. With those high expectations and all of the kerfuffle (a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views) taking place, the manner in which we carry and portray ourselves makes a difference in our organizations. Leadership sets the tone and expectations for the school district.
I am sure that most of you have heard the saying “Is the glass half empty or half full?” Perspective can either push us to a positive or not so positive reaction. Your attitude and perspective plays a large role in how you react to challenges in your professional world. Our staff and parents do watch us carefully and take cues from our words and actions. It is a huge responsibility that I am sure each of you is capable of handling every day.
Minnesota is a great state in which to be an educational leader, but it is not without its challenges: achievement gap, adequate funding, teacher shortages, accountability, etc. However, seeing our situation in a broader context helped me see our state in a different light. I had the great fortune to serve as a representative on the AASA Governing Board for six years. During our regional meetings (Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota) there always was time to share what was happening in our respective states. Most times we were the only state that had any good news to share. Our neighbors talked about reduced funding and wide-ranging policy changes that were not necessarily “public school” friendly. While there is still work to do, when viewed in a broader context I firmly believe we are very fortunate to be school leaders in Minnesota.
My most sincere wish is that each of you had a great start to the year. Remember that your association is here to support you. I hope to see each and every one of you at our Fall Conference in Duluth where we will further explore how to personalize learning for students and adults! •