All In: The Superintendent’s Blog
This is the first installment of the Superintendent’s blog, All In.
So, another school year begins. As I think about the first day of school, I remember the poem Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity by John Tobias. Here’s one stanza:
During that summer–
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was–
The poem can be found here…
In the 10th grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Clark, used this poem to help us think about life’s transitions, growing up, and how memories shift and change with time, ultimately changing each of us.
We face many transitions in our lives, but one transition each of us in the school business experiences—whether we are 10- or 12-month employees—is the end of summer. And the end of summer signals the start of the school year.
Many of you feel some stress and anxiety as summer days pass because you are working to have everything ready for the first day of school. From transportation to materials management—and across the entire system—thousands of individuals have spent the summer preparing for more than 161,000 students to come back to school. The work of each of you is critical to our collective success, and I thank you.
I welcome each of you to the 2017–2018 school year. This year, we have more than 900 new teachers, more than 70 new support professionals, and 26 new administrators joining us. I appreciate all of the efforts of the human resources, payroll and finance teams in handling a million details as they bring all staff members on board for the year. Having listed these three offices and departments, I know the list of departments and individuals who have done work over the summer goes on and on, so I say THANK YOU to each of you for your work to support student learning.
It is important to say that student learning is our essential purpose, and it makes all the difference in our students’ lives. We are each—regardless of our job title—teaching and learning every day. I try to take a moment each day to refocus my efforts, knowing that what I do can either support or take away from student learning.
So, I look forward to September 5 with excitement, anticipation and anxiety as more than 1,300 buses roll and 205 schools open their doors (including Silver Creek, our new middle school in Kensington).
We will welcome 161,000 students and begin anew the challenge of student learning. We will celebrate diversity and a commitment to equity making sure that All Means All when it comes to equity and excellence in learning, progress, achievement and opportunity.
Good Read/Good Listen
As we all know, learning doesn’t stop when you become an adult. I am constantly learning about new ideas and exploring new perspectives. I do this through books, articles and podcasts. Each blog, I will share a few of the most interesting ones with you. Some have made me ask questions, some have irritated me; others have made me smile or frown. I hope they make you think critically and open doors to new information and ideas.
Good Read: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker
Good Listen: “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment” Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell
As summer draws to a close, MCPS is getting ready to welcome students and staff back for another exciting school year. The district has produced a short video message that highlights the priorities for the coming school year and the school district’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that every student receives a world-class public education.
This year’s Back-to-School video features Board of Education President Michael Durso and Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith, with special appearances by Sean Pang, the 2017 Washington Post Teacher of the Year; Dr. Traci Townsend, principal of the new Silver Creek Middle School opening this year; and Irene Thompson, a cafeteria manager at Watkins Mill High School.