Westwood Way

Happenings In Panther Nation - November 2019

In October, I was able to travel to New York City with twenty-five other superintendents to tour public schools in the New York City Public School system. Over five days, we were able to visit an elementary, middle school, and a high school campus and also participate in activities at Columbia University.

Our charge was to observe the practices, systems, and structures of the campuses in the context of which they were operating. We were constantly reminded not to view their operations as we would our schools but to try to understand the school operations from their viewpoint.

Needless to say, we experienced things that we have never seen in Texas! We visited with a third-grade student that traveled to school alone on the subway in the morning and afternoon. We listened to a high school student tell how they traveled 1 ½ hour by subway and bus to get to school each morning and afternoon. We toured a building that had five high schools located in it and had only one cafeteria and one gym. We heard a high school principal tell his story of raising over $1,000,000 through community partnerships so he could sustain necessary student programs.

While it is hard to grasp that a third-grade student can ride the subway all alone, we began to understand that this must happen in this context if the parents want their child to attend school. Even though we discussed that there is no way two high schools much less five high schools can operate in the same building, five campus principals discovered a way for them to coexist. Time after time, innovative educators, parents, and students found a way to meet their needs and overcome the obstacles they faced!

As visitors to these campuses, we had the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. This caused us to dig deep and ask clarifying questions in an attempt to understand how and why the people involved made the decisions they made. Through this process, we walked away with a different perspective than we came with.

Ever since the trip, I have been reflecting on how often do we succumb to the challenges or barriers and decide that we can’t accomplish something. How often do we see the problem and adopt a limited view of the possible solutions because of past experiences?

I wonder how many times we work with a third-grade student and decide they can't accomplish a task while so many third-grade students in New York are riding the subway. How many times are we faced with a scheduling issue, and we only see the options we have always defaulted to while five campus principals found a creative way to operate their campuses in one building?

My challenge to ALL of us is to begin looking at our problems and obstacles as a visitor would look at them, dig deep, ask clarifying questions of each other, and possibly start to see solutions we have never envisioned. Through this process, I believe we will uncover and remove limitations we have placed on ourselves and others and begin to truly live-out The Energy Bus Principle #2 Create A Positive Vision!!


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School Board Update

During the November Board Meeting, the following items came before the School Board:

Dr. Kyle Penn presented an overview of Tier I funding in which he discussed state and local funding.

Shinnitta Foremen presented an overview of the Elementary Targeted Improvement Plan.

The School Board unanimously voted to approve the Elementary Targeted Improvement Plan as presented.

The School Board unanimously voted for Mike Kelly to serve as Board of Director representative for the Anderson County Central Appraisal District.

The School Board unanimously voted to take nominations for Proud Panther until December 4.

The School Board and administration discussed Chapters 11-17 of The Energy Bus.